Yesterday was a sad day for the NFL, as Pittsburgh Steelers chairman, architect, and grandfather Dan Rooney passed away at the ripe age of 84. The league is still enduring undocumented moments of silence as players, coaches, and football friends reminisce.
Following 40 years of being a hilarious NFL failure, the Steelers were taken over by the young Rooney in the 1960s from his cigar-sucking father, Art Rooney Sr., who founded the team a year after Dan was born. The once-pathetic franchise that had never been to a title game would go on to win six Super Bowls under Dan Rooney’s tutelage and a once-intolerant league would soon open its arms to diversity thanks to Rooney’s guidance (the Rooney Rule, introduced in 2003, required teams to interview minority candidates for vacant head coaching and senior football operations positions).
Under Dan, the Steelers set a new standard for success, sustainability, and team professionalism that still permeates Pittsburgh today. The Jackie Robinson Foundation handed Rooney the Lifetime Achievement Award in March 2016. Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher may have put it best:
“People always ask, ‘What is the mystique of the Steelers?’ It’s a really hard question to answer, but I can just say this: He built a culture that was based on two things — humility and responsibility. The responsibility that goes with being a Pittsburgh Steeler, the responsibility that goes with giving back to the community, and the humility to understand that when you have success, you don’t take yourself too serious. He built that, and I think we all learned from that. It was a culture that he created, and I think it permeated throughout the building because it always starts right at the top.”
Players, coaches, and more from around the league continue to come together to remember a former mentor..
“Words cannot express my sadness at this time but I feel so blessed to have known such a wonderful man.”
“We’ve lost the heart & soul of Steeler Nation. Incredible person humanitarian & true patriot. May his memory be eternal.”
“When we first met in 2010 you embraced me with open arms. You made me feel welcome. 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. You motivated me not only to excel on the field but also in life. 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. I’ll miss you my friend. Thank you for everything 💛 -AB”
“The world and the NFL lost a legend and a leader today. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Rooney family. Thanks for teaching me the art of the handshake and how important it was to give back to the community. I’m so THANKFUL to you for giving me an opportunity to wear the black and gold. You were not afraid to lead by example. You were an innovator who paved the way for many of us and for the world. I am FOREVER GRATEFUL TO YOU, PAPA ROONEY! I’m sorry I never got to take that airplane ride up to Latrobe with you. You will be FOREVER missed! #foreverMRROONEY”
“..for practice, games and the in between. Thanks for the handshakes and smiles during the low times, as well as the championships! Love you!”
“RIP Dan. My Mentor & friend. Thank you for your Guidance & Wisdom. I came a Young Coach & left a Better Man. Your spirit will live forever.”
“He’s always been a special person, a special person.. I don’t know what kind of impressions that one might have about ownership in the National Football League. I don’t know what kind of impression I had prior to coming to Pittsburgh, but having met Mr. Rooney, Art Sr. and Dan, all I can think of are positive things, good things, you know? Not a negative thought ever crosses my mind.”
“Mr. Rooney meant so much to the city of Pittsburgh & NFL. Thank you for all that u have done. I’m honored to have called you my friend. #RIP”
“Dan Rooney was a great friend of mine, but more importantly, he was a great friend to the people of Pittsburgh, a model citizen, and someone who represented the United States with dignity and grace on the world stage. I knew he’d do a wonderful job when I named him as our United States Ambassador to Ireland, but naturally, he surpassed my high expectations, and I know the people of Ireland thank fondly of him today.”
“Very sad day for me hearing of the passing of Dan Rooney. Dan was just special. I was blessed to get to know him and blessed to be a Steeler”
“Dan Rooney was the conscience of the NFL while serving as one of the powerful influences recently and in the history of our league.. While a winner and a competitor at the highest level, he was kind, classy and a true gentleman. He was a giant in our industry.. Mr. Rooney was so gracious, warm and welcoming when I joined the league. I feel blessed to have known him, and our prayers and thoughts are with his wonderful family.”
“🙏🏾🌹 mr Rooney”
“I am deeply saddened to hear the news regarding Dan Rooney.. When I first entered the NFL, Dan and his family were so gracious to me and my family. They provided guidance on how to build a winning organization, both on and off the field. As important as winning was to Dan, he never lost sight of the importance of giving back to his community.. My goal was to build a team that could sustain a winning tradition just like the Rooney family had with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I feel the success we have had as an organization is directly tied to the lessons I learned from Dan. He represented the heart and soul of the National Football League. In my experiences with him at the NFL meetings, I always admired the way he conducted himself, with great humility, dignity and kindness. He was a leader who was respected by everyone associated with this wonderful game. My condolences go out to his wife Patricia, his son Art, as well as his entire family, the many players who played for him and the countless Steeler fans who will mourn his loss.”