KRWG

Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney Dies At 84

Apr 14, 2017
Originally published on April 14, 2017 6:05 am
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's remember a powerful influence on pro football from David's home city of Pittsburgh.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yeah. It's a sad, sad morning in Pittsburgh. Dan Rooney has died at age 84. He was chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the architect of those championship teams.

INSKEEP: But the job title alone, as David knows, does not get across his full influence on his city and his league. NPR's Tom Goldman has more.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Dan Rooney was the rare man of power and influence who never forgot to be kind as well. Rooney's dad, Art, founded the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dan grew up around the team and its players. Over the years, Dan Rooney held a number of front office jobs. And it was under his leadership that the team became a 1970s dynasty, winning four Super Bowl titles in six years and two more since 2006.

Rooney was equally influential with the league. He helped settle labor disputes with a calm and quiet demeanor. Joe Horrigan is with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which inducted Rooney in 2000.

JOE HORRIGAN: He was the consensus builder who, behind the scenes, could, you know, just appeal to common sense.

GOLDMAN: In 1933, Art Rooney's new NFL team in Pittsburgh signed one of only two black players in the league. Seventy years later, Dan Rooney was the driving force behind the Rooney Rule. It says teams have to interview at least one minority candidate when hiring a new head coach or general manager. Dan Rooney talked about it in 2012.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAN ROONEY: There was really very few, down to either none or one, minority coaches. And we just felt that this was not the right thing. It was not the right thing from many, many standpoints.

GOLDMAN: The tributes following Rooney's death have ranged from former President Obama who appointed Rooney ambassador to Ireland to players. In an Instagram post, Pittsburgh All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown spoke for countless Steelers over the years when he wrote, (reading) you looked at me as more than just another jersey number, one of the most genuine and humble human beings I've had the pleasure of knowing. This season, the number 84 on my uniform will represent the 84 years you spent on this earth making an impact on the lives of others.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF EL TEN ELEVEN'S "SETTLING WITH POWER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.