Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney dies at 84

Apr 14, 2017, 10:51

Dan Rooney, who succeeded his father as Steelers team president and rose to become one of the most powerful and beloved owners in sports, died Thursday at the age of 84.

"My goal was to build a team that could sustain a winning tradition just like the Rooney family had with the Pittsburgh Steelers".

Tributes began across social media and other places soon after Rooney's death was announced. From there, Dan Rooney oversaw National Football League championships for a team that had never even played in an National Football League title game.

"Ambassador Rooney was one of the giants of our game", McCaskey said in a statement, "His quiet counsel to league commissioners going back to Bert Bell was invaluable to the success of the NFL".

Dan was the namesake for the Rooney Rule, which in 2003 was established to force teams with head coaching and general manager vacancies to interview minority candidates. He was a key figure in labor negotiations and league expansion.

The rule has been credited with an increase in minority coaches in the years since. "I feel blessed to have known him, and our prayers and thoughts are with his wonderful family".

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Under Rooney's direction, the Steelers won four Super Bowls in a six-year span in the 1970s to go along with many other accomplishments that has made the franchise among the NFL's best today.

"I loved being out there, loafing with the players and working with the team", Rooney said. One of the most genuine, and humble human beings I've had the pleasure of knowing.

"The Rooney's are a royal family in the National Football League, and Dan more than capably followed in the footsteps of his father, Art, a league founder", Jones said.

More recently, Rooney served as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12. Rooney had always been a supporter of Ireland, raising millions to support cultural and education efforts in the country.

Rooney brought football with him, adding a football field to the grand ambassador's residence and hosting Fourth of July flag football games. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on the Steelers chairman's passing, citing Rooney's enormous contributions to the NFL and game of football.

Except for a stint as ambassador to Ireland in the Obama administration, Rooney was part of the Steelers nearly from birth, having been born the year before his father, Art, bought the team.

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