Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert pay tribute to late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney
PITTSBURGH — Three days after the Steelers’ 2015 season ended, Mike Tomlin had to look back and rehash it all.
As he did so, he paused to make one element of the campaign very clear.
“… the tremendous support that we get from our ownership Mr. [Dan] Rooney, Art Rooney II and others, it’s as good as you hear,” Tomlin said at the time.
He went on to thank general manager Kevin Colbert and other parts of the Steelers staff, too. On Friday, both Tomlin and Colbert bid their first public goodbyes to Dan Rooney.
The longtime Steelers owner died on Friday at 84.
In 2000, when Rooney was still team president, he hired fellow North Catholic alum Colbert as the Steelers’ director of football operations in 2000. Colbert formally became the team’s first general manager ahead of the 2011 season.
“Mr. Rooney touched everybody he ever met. Words cannot express the impact he had on me, my family and our organization on a daily basis. The virtues he taught us about faith, family and our great game of football will never be forgotten and always cherished.
“As we move forward, it is not only our obligation to carry on these wonderful virtues in our lives, but to share these same virtues with others the way he shared them with us.” –Steelers GM Kevin Colbert
Though he had made way for his son, Art Rooney II, as team president by the time Tomlin was hired in 2007, Rooney was involved in Tomlin’s hiring, too. Both Tomlin and Rooney have supported diversity in NFL coaching.
- How Steelers players took the news of Rooney’s passing
The Rooney Rule that bears the late owner’s name requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority head coaching candidate for each opening, though Rooney has said that Tomlin’s hiring – he is the first black coach in franchise history – wasn’t a result of the reform. Rooney said Pittsburgh had already interviewed Ron Rivera.
“The passing of Mr. Rooney is a difficult time, not just for myself, the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and the National Football League. But for everyone in the City of Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation.
In 2007, Mr. Rooney afforded me the opportunity to lead the football team he helped guide throughout his life. For that, I am forever grateful and am honored to have done so.
After every game, win or lose, Mr. Rooney would enter our locker room, look me in my eye and shake my hand along with every player who stepped foot on the field. He embodied professionalism and was a man who created a family-like atmosphere that will continue on.
Football examples only scratch the surface of how he impacted mine and the countless other lives he touched.” –Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin
A public viewing will be held for Rooney on Monday at 2 p.m. at Heinz Field.
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