Steelers to lose personal touch with Dan Rooney in Dublin
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dan Rooney will soon earn the official title, yet he's always been an Irish ambassador with his Steelers and throughout the NFL. He's long been known as the league's voice of reason and conscience and, when it appeared war would break out or did between the league's players and owners, a man of peace.
Ireland may be gaining an ambassador, but the Steelers and the NFL are losing football royalty, a Hall of Famer and son of the franchise's founder who put personal integrity above all else while operating his team and dealing with its people.
His absence will be felt in Pittsburgh and across the NFL, where labor war clouds again are gathering. His son, Art Rooney II, succeeded his father as Steelers president in 2002, and the public will discern few changes in the way the team is operated, partly because Art has run the daily operations of the team anyway. And Art's chief adviser, his father, will remain only a phone call away in Dublin.
"I don't believe Dan would be able to take on these new responsibilities if his son Art wasn't already a Super Bowl-winning club president,'' said Joe Browne, the NFL's longtime executive vice president of communications and himself an Irishman.
The Steelers will miss Dan Rooney's personal touch. Like his Hall of Fame father, Art Rooney Sr., Dan often visits the locker room, sits with secretaries at lunch, stops by the press room at the team's offices on the South Side to chat, and remains an important connection to the 1930s, when he first hung around his father's new football team, and even to the great days of the 1970s, a time fewer and fewer Steelers employees have experienced.
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