Mr. Rooney

When you discuss how NFL teams are built, normally people will say it starts with getting that franchise player (a quarterback nine times out of ten) and a good head coach. But, there’s someone above them and that’s the general manager or president of football operations and even with the front office, there is someone over them and that’s the team owner. In the history of the NFL, there have been some legendary ones and Mr. Dan Rooney was one of them. Today, the legendary owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers passed away at the age of 84.

He’s the son of Art Rooney who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933 and Dan Rooney worked with his father within the franchise in many different capacities. In 1969, Dan took over the day to day running of the team and as that happened, this was the beginning of a very successful stint for one of the legendary franchises not just in the NFL, but in the world of sports. Mr. Rooney is also responsible for the hiring of one of the best coaches ever to step on a sideline and that’s Chuck Noll. During Mr. Rooney’s tenure as owner, he has implemented a philosophy and management style that emphasizes open, practical and efficient management. The success on the field is another thing to discuss. Since 1972, the Steelers have won a total of 15 division championships, eight AFC championships and a record of six NFL championships. He was a man that avoided the spotlight and was a man of business and worked very hard behind the scenes. He’s one of the main architects behind the salary cap (a term we seem to hear frequently nowadays) and he is also known for implementing what we now know as the “Rooney Rule”. The Rooney Rule is a requirement that NFL franchises with head coaching or general manager vacancies interview at least one minority candidate.

In 2000, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame for his contributions to the sport. On March 17th, 2009, President Barack Obama made the announcement that he nominated Mr. Rooney to become the next U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and he served in this position from 2009 until 2012. Dan Rooney is one of the most iconic and successful owners in our game and his unfortunate passing hurts the game. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, those who worked with him and were fortunate to play for a great man.