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Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney Passes Away At Age 84

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Dan Rooney Leaves A Lasting Legacy In Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Steeler football family and the NFL has lost a great man.  After serving as the chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2003-2017, Dan Rooney passed away on Thursday afternoon.  He was 84 years old.  Rooney was the second chairman of the Steelers after being the president of the Steelers from 1975-2002, which he then passed down to Art Rooney II.

His father, Art Rooney, founded the Steelers in 1933.  The Steelers won five of their six Super Bowls under Rooney (first one in 1974).  Rooney was a key piece of the Steelers organization all the way up to the day of his death.  He also served as the 30th United States Ambassador to Ireland under President Obama from July 2009-December 2012.

Rooney Opened The Door For Minority Coaches

Dan Rooney is known for helping minority coaches receive recognition in the NFL.  Up until 1979, there was only one minority head coach in the NFL.  By 2002, there were only six more minority head coaches added to NFL history. Then in the end of the 2002 season, Tony Dungy and Dennis Green were fired after having tremendous success as head coaches.  This raised many questions and caught the attention of Rooney. Rooney helped create the “Rooney Rule” to help prevent job discrimination.  The NFL established the rule in 2003.  This rule stated that at least one minority candidate must be considered for every head coaching or senior operations job opening for NFL teams. We have seen a tremendous rise of many successful minority head coaches, including Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Reactions To Rooney’s Death

The news of the passing of Dan Rooney rose many reactions both inside and outside of football.  These reactions show how many lives Rooney touched in his 84 years of life.  Here are some of the major reactions to this sad news:

President Barrack Obama: Rooney served as an ambassador to Ireland under President Obama. He was also one of Obama’s biggest supporters.  Obama had this to say about Mr. Rooney: “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.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell:  Goodell referred to Rooney as one of his biggest advisers of the past several seasons. Goodell said that “He was someone that was devoted to the National Football League at every level.”  He also praised Rooney on being a tremendous family man.

Former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher: Cowher served as the head coach of the Steelers from 1992-2006.  He won one Super Bowl while with the Steelers. Cowher had the following to say about Rooney on Twitter: “RIP Dan Rooney.  My mentor & friend.  Thank you for your guidance & wisdom.  I came a young coach and left a better man.”

Linebacker Ryan Shazier: Shazier also took to Twitter to thank Rooney for everything he did for himself and the Steelers organization.  Mr. Rooney will be the motivation for this season according to Shazier.  In his statement he said that “I know this whole season is going to be dedicated to Mr. Rooney and the Rooney family.”

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