The longtime owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dan Rooney, has passed away at the age of 84. A team that his family has owned since the 1930’s, Rooney had his first job as a water boy at 12 years old. After graduating from Duquesne University in 1955, he began working in the Steelers’ front office. He later became a general manager, handling the day-to-day activities of the team from 1975 to 2003. Eventually, his son, Art Rooney Jr., took over those duties. The Rooney family was considered one of the first NFL families.
Rooney assisted in settling two player strikes, as well as creating a rule advocating the diversity of coaches and executives in the NFL. In 2003 it became known as the “Rooney Rule.” The rule was expanded in 2016 to include women for executive openings. Since then, seventeen minority head coaches have been hired from 2003 through 2017, a little more than double the number that had been hired since the NFL’s founding in 1920.
He also served as the US Ambassador to Ireland after being appointed by President Obama. A supporter of President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Rooney was appointed in 2009 and held the post until 2012. He had long been a supporter of Ireland, raising millions to support educational and cultural endeavors. If all those accomplishments weren’t enough, he also collected six Super Bowl rings with the Steelers, who have become one of the more the dominant franchises in league history.
In a statement made to the LA Times by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he said:
“Few men have contributed as much to the National Football League as Dan Rooney. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was one of the finest men in the history of our game, and it was a privilege to work alongside him for so many years.”