Rosenthal posted on Friday an item regarding a couple of the things that Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said Friday in Pittsburgh, where he’s taking a break from his duties as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland to watch his Steelers try to qualify an eighth time for the Super Bowl.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times has expanded on the points made, and Rooney’s comments make clear to us that the league needs him to be involved in the labor negotiations.
“We should have a deal,” Rooney said. “We should not let the disruption of next season happen because of a lockout, a strike, or whatever. . . . It’s in everybody’s best interest to get a deal. The players, of course, want to play, and that’s what should happen.
“The games this year couldn’t be better. The ratings are high. So why would you step back?”
Rooney also said something that plenty of people are thinking. If long-time NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw were still living, a deal would already be done.
“I think if Gene Upshaw were here, he’s someone I could talk to about this,” Rooney said. “He’s someone who was for the game at all the time.”
That said, Upshaw crammed down the league’s gullet in 2006 a deal that clearly favors the players. Why else would the players be more than willing to continue with a system that the owners opted to scuttle two years early after barely two years had passed under the current agreement?
Still, the owners have yet to warm up to Upshaw’s successor, DeMaurice Smith. “I don’t know the personalities,” Rooney said. “There is maybe distrust. Maybe dislike is a better word. But that’s beyond. You have a situation like this, you’ve got to get a deal. You’ve got to forget personalities.”
Regardless of whether Rooney has the time or the inclination to become involved in the process, the process needs him. The game needs him. And as the talks intensify (if they ever intensify), we’ve got a feeling that Rooney will have a role.