Pittsburgh Steelers owner, chairman Dan Rooney dies, age 84
PITTSBURGH — Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and only the second chairman the franchise has ever known, died on Thursday at the age of 84.
His team announced the news of his death.
Rooney spent nearly his entire professional life working on and within the football team his father, Art “The Chief” Rooney founded in 1933 — the year after Dan Rooney was born. His internal roles included team president, from 1975-2012, and chairman, from 2003 until his passing.
From 2009-12, he served as the United States’ ambassador to the Republic of Ireland.
He was famed for his close relationship with players and unassuming attitude toward media members and the public as a whole. In the final year of Ike Taylor’s career, Rooney posed among his players in the team photo at the cornerback’s urging, and by his side.
The longtime owner is credited with championing what’s come to be known as The Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority head coaching candidate for any such opening. Current head coach Mike Tomlin, however, was not hired as a direct result of that rule.
Rooney said the Steelers had already interviewed Ron Rivera, who was the Chicago Bears’ defensive coordinator at the time.
Through what would be the final Steelers season he saw, Rooney ate lunch with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a weekly basis at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, which was named after him last year.
His son and current president and team owner Art Rooney II, said his father ultimately allowed the team facility to be named after him, albeit reluctantly.
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