Daniel Milton Rooney was born on July 20, 1932. His father, Arthur Joseph Rooney purchased the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise (at that time known as the Pirates) on July 8, 1933. It’s safe to say that Dan Rooney has been a part of the franchise nearly his entire life.
Rooney has not only been an influential man in Pittsburgh but he’s also been one of the NFL’s most influential owners. He’s been the president and chairman for the team since 1955 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
For his 75th birthday he wrote, Dan Rooney: My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL. In the book he chronicles his life being raised by Art “The Chief” Rooney and his part in turning the Pittsburgh Steelers into one of the most respected sports franchises in the country.
He also covers his experience molding the NFL into the league we know today. Rooney has been a member of the board of directors for the NFL Trust Fund, NFL Films and the Scheduling Committee. He was Chairman of the league’s Expansion Committee in 1973, responsible for adding the franchises to Seattle and Tampa Bay in 1976.
As Teresa Varley explains, Rooney was also named Chairman of the Negotiating Committee in 1976 and was a part of the CBA between the NFL owners and NFLPA. He was peaceful and rational force in the negotiations no matter who many times Al Davis tried suing the league.
Taking his father’s lead Dan Rooney ran the Steelers organization as a family organization, treating staff and players like part of his own family. When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 200 he selected Joe Greene to present him.
"“Whenever I’ve had a special occasion in my life, the times you want your friends to share, Dan or a member of his family has been there. That means an awful lot. Dan has not only exhibited kindness towards me, but has followed in his father’s footsteps. All the Steelers players are part of his family. I am most honored and proud to represent the Rooney family, the Steelers organization, all the former players and coaches, the City of Pittsburgh, and the fans presenting our boss and our friend to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dan Rooney.” – Joe Greene"
It’s that family atmosphere that is not just a line about the Steelers, it’s the truth. They hold an Easter brunch and egg hunt annually at Heinz Field and I went last year with my family. As we sat around the table impressed at the decorations and selections of food we were surprised to see that Mr. Rooney and his family were seated at the table right next to us.
He could not have been more kind and humble, going to get his food from the buffet himself and then going through the crowd to meet and greet fans who were sharing their Easter with the Rooney family. The family atmosphere isn’t a gimmick or a façade, it’s genuine and it all starts with Dan Rooney.
Steeler Nation wishes Mr. Rooney a very happy 83rd birthday and many, many more!
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