6 Pittsburgh Steelers who made the NFL rewrite its rules

Mel Blount Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Mel Blount Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

Dan Rooney- Owner 1988-2017

The Rooney family has been a part of the NFL since Art Rooney founded the team in 1933. They redefined football when they hired Chuck Knoll in 1969, creating a dynasty that won four NFL titles in six years.

Upon his death son, Dan Rooney succeeded him as owner. Even before assuming that role, Dan had been a driving force in the NFL quietly leading negotiations of the 1982 collective bargaining agreement, had a hand in creating the salary cap and helped prevent the NFL from losing the Cleveland Browns when Art Modell moved the team in 1995. The Browns came back to Cleveland in 1999. Everyone respected Dan as much as his father. Then in 2002, Dan another opportunity to deepen the Rooney legacy within the NFL.

By the late 1990s, the NFL faced much scrutiny over the lack of minority coaches and personnel in front-office positions.  The NFL struggled with the issue for several years facing harsh criticism, yet change came slowly. Then Dan Rooney got involved. An outside group critical of the lack of diversity in the NFL met with Dan in 2002. Thus caused Dan to spearhead an effort to expand diversity among the NFL coaching pool.

Spending a year trying to solve the problem, the NFL in 2003 finally introduced what has become known as the Rooney Rule. The rule required each team to interview at least one ethnic minority for every head coaching position. The NFL has even revised and enhanced the rule several times since its introduction. While some have questioned the effectiveness of the rule, or the implementation of the rule, its success is debatable.

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Nonetheless, before the Rooney Rule, there had only been seven minority coaches. Since the NFL adopted the rule, teams have hired 19 minority coaches.  Indeed a great lasting legacy for not only Dan Rooney but the entire Rooney family.