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Fewer and fewer Rooneys will own a piece of the Steelers

Art Rooney, president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, right, poses with his son, Dan, general manager of the club, in Pittsburgh, in this January 21, 1966 photo. Art Rooney Sr. was a skillful owner who treated his players as partners rather than employees, and whose patience after 40 mostly unsuccessful seasons paid off with one of the greatest teams ever in pro sports.  Dan Rooney had far too much individualism to copy his famous father's every trait and mannerism. Rather, he took what his father had helped build and made it even better, not just the Steelers, but also the league they played in, and for that reason will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday July 22, 2000. (AP Photo) AP

A decade ago, the Steelers were entirely owned by members of the Rooney family. As some of them began to acquire gambling interests that didn’t mesh with the NFL’s confusing and malleable gambling policy, some began to sell off their interests.

As recently explained by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the only remaining Rooneys to own any significant percentage of the team will be Dan Rooney (pictured in 1966 with team founder Art Rooney Sr.) and Art Rooney II. The son and grandson, respectively, of Art Sr., Dan and Art II will continue to run the team, even as more non-Rooneys pile up more and more of the equity.

“I’m a lifelong Steelers fan but also a lifelong Rooney fan,” Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull, a significant owner of the franchise, told Bouchette. “It’s very important to me that the Rooney family is always the head of the Steelers.”

The Steelers apparently will enjoy at least one more generation of Rooney ownership, with Art II’s son Danny being groomed to eventually take over.

“The future of the Rooney family is bright,’’ Tull said. “Danny is driven, competitive, and learning the business from the ground up. Rather than using his last name to get a front-office position, Danny interned at the NFL and started on the lowest levels of the scouting department, doing all of the unglamorous work that goes into building a football team.”

In some cities, NFL ownership has become the local equivalent of royalty, with ownership passing from generation to generation until it reaches a generation that can’t or won’t carry the flag. The biggest challenge continues to be estate taxes, which can require heirs to sell ownership in the team in order to raise the money to pay the government. In some cases, it requires control of the franchise to be sacrificed.

It won’t get any easier as franchise values continue to grow. The more the inherited team ownership is worth, the more it will cost to pay the estate taxes.

Eventually, the NFL may not be able to find enough rich people to own and retain equity in franchises. And that could compel the league to dramatically overhaul its ownership rules. The ultimate end game would be the transformation of all franchises to a shareholder model, with the stock becoming a real asset that can appreciate and depreciate on the open market, and in which individuals can make real investments — no a Packers-style non-stock stock certificate that is essentially a very expensive piece of memorabilia.

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40 Responses to “Fewer and fewer Rooneys will own a piece of the Steelers”
  1. gibbskins9 says: Feb 29, 2016 9:18 PM

    Good, now get rid of the Rooney rule too it’s racist

  2. aquibtalibedoutoftheseason says: Feb 29, 2016 9:20 PM

    Great article Florio–The end of the times as a sole owner, and the rich..

  3. cinzano08 says: Feb 29, 2016 9:20 PM

    Scumbag Rooney family. Mike Webster living under a bridge and they could care less. Webster used roads to help these frauds win then the rooneys disowned them. NFL owners s u c. K.

  4. fumblenuts says: Feb 29, 2016 9:23 PM

    File this under…..who cares.

  5. raidermark says: Feb 29, 2016 9:28 PM

    Put it in a trust. No estate taxes ever Just keep adding names like the Rockefeller s and the Kennedy’s

  6. ragingyinzer says: Feb 29, 2016 9:35 PM

    This is not news. This was set in motion by the league-mandated restructuring of Steelers’ ownership back in 2009. Still, should serve to bring the trolls out for a lap…

  7. TebowedOutOfThePostSeasonAndNeverToReturn says: Feb 29, 2016 9:44 PM

    I don’t blame the Rooneys for wanting to unload this team. No legit playoff wins since Jan.2011, they can’t beat the Ravens and they can’t win a playoff unless the coaches go out there and start pulling hair and picking fights. LOL.

  8. easyeintennessee says: Feb 29, 2016 9:44 PM

    Everyone knows Vontaze Burfict owns the Steelers

  9. tokyosandblaster says: Feb 29, 2016 9:45 PM

    It’s like when steelers fans grow into adulthood. I’m their teens they lose some teeth. In their twenties they lose more. By the time they’re 30 they have two teeth left and they’re not even taking care of them.

    >

  10. thames2vvvvvvrebel89130 says: Feb 29, 2016 9:54 PM

    the buss kids didn’t have any problems with estate taxes when dr buss passed

    jerry jones was asked about succession/tax issues after the joe robbie scandal and he said the jones family would always own the cowboys

    google joe robbie kids and read what happened to them when their dad passed; sports illustrated had a great article on it; kids got pennies on the dollar and wayn huzienga stole the team for virtutally nothing

  11. f1restarter says: Feb 29, 2016 10:00 PM

    The Rooneys will forever be known for the patronizing, racial pandering rule that’s named after them.

  12. bmacwillconn says: Feb 29, 2016 10:19 PM

    Hopefully Estate Taxes will one day be abolished and we can begin to shrink this monstrosity of a government.

  13. tonebones says: Feb 29, 2016 10:19 PM

    The Rooneys will forever be known for winning Super Bowls.

  14. bigdog2372 says: Feb 29, 2016 10:28 PM

    Does that mean we can get rid of the ridiculous rule named after them soon?

  15. ohand16 says: Feb 29, 2016 10:30 PM

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

  16. pantherpro says: Feb 29, 2016 10:33 PM

    All those hillbilly towel waiving losers!

  17. f1restarter says: Feb 29, 2016 10:39 PM

    “The Rooneys will forever be known for winning Super Bowls.”
    —————————————
    Here in Wisconsin, they’re known for losing one to my Packers.

  18. bubbahotepp says: Feb 29, 2016 11:08 PM

    I understand the hate. Jealousy is the last refuge of the impotent. You can see it on all the crime shows.

  19. billsboy88 says: Feb 29, 2016 11:50 PM

    Running out of rich people? Yeah, right…..

  20. kevingreene160sacknoHOFclub says: Mar 1, 2016 12:38 AM

    Lot of people behind their keyboards don’t like the so-called “Rooney rule.”

    Says more about those willing to trash it than it does about the rule itself.

  21. ebdug says: Mar 1, 2016 2:02 AM

    I wonder how much of the teams are even majority owned by this set of clowns.

    I know Benson only owns a tiny “voting” piece of the team after giving it to his daughter Rene to avoid taxes.

    Who believes Haslam owns any part of the Browns after the SEC reported he was $200 million in debt before the alleged sale. For some reason he was handpicked to share in the profits. Honor among thieves?

    If the league was publicly owned this group and their gutless commissioner would be out on their ear.

  22. notwhoyouthinkitis says: Mar 1, 2016 5:08 AM

    “f1restarter says:
    Feb 29, 2016 10:39 PM

    “The Rooneys will forever be known for winning Super Bowls.”
    —————————————
    Here in Wisconsin, they’re known for losing one to my Packers.”

    Only because a Steeler lineman blew his block forcing Roethlisberger to throw too early to Wallace who had already beaten the Packer safety for an easy TD. Go back and watch the tape.

  23. NYCTourGuy (Bucs fan) says: Mar 1, 2016 6:26 AM

    The NFL will never allow the corporate structure of NFL teams, because if the shares are mainly owned in one area (i.e. Green Bay) the team will never be able to threaten to leave for a better stadium situation.

  24. broncosrchamps says: Mar 1, 2016 6:48 AM

    Why not just put the team into a trust?

  25. Punk says: Mar 1, 2016 6:51 AM

    The whole purpose of estate taxes is so that we won’t have defacto royalty through business. Its a good law.

  26. triggerdawg says: Mar 1, 2016 7:02 AM

    Hey tebow, and the Broncos own the Ravens,I mean buzzards,jump ball getting schooled by noodle arm manning.only 117 passing yds.What a joke!

  27. stew48 says: Mar 1, 2016 7:23 AM

    I’m not sure when the Rooneys owned all of the Steelers, but it has been either never or a long, long time.

  28. dewey51 says: Mar 1, 2016 8:36 AM

    The only Rooney I care about is Rooney Mara.

  29. williamshatnerstoupee says: Mar 1, 2016 9:00 AM

    November 2nd, 2014

    Black and Gold – 43
    Purple and Black – 23

    QB for Black and Gold – 25 for 37.

    Six touchdowns.

  30. steelerfanjo says: Mar 1, 2016 9:04 AM

    Amazing how people hate on the greatest franchise in sports. Jealousy is what it is. Ravens, Bengals, Pats, Broncos, Raiders, Niners… all are a joke.

  31. pats are better than your team says: Mar 1, 2016 9:15 AM

    Second best dynasty ever, Steeler fans have a lot to be proud of.

  32. TebowedOutOfThePostSeasonAndNeverToReturn says: Mar 1, 2016 9:31 AM

    September 11, 2014

    Black and G(old) and Slow – 6 (what happened? Run out of touchdowns?)
    Purple and Black – 26

    January 3, 2015

    Black and G(old) and Slow – 17
    Purple and Black – 30 (oops…sorry to embarrass you at home. Hey, what happened to all the fans?)

    The rest is just a sweeeeeeep! LOL

  33. pdp2100 says: Mar 1, 2016 9:34 AM

    ‘Ol Art, Sr., was a visionary with those specs. Now, many wear the same kind of frames. RIP Art!

  34. mountaingirl39 says: Mar 1, 2016 9:36 AM

    williamshatnerstoupee says:
    Mar 1, 2016 9:00 AM

    November 2nd, 2014

    Black and Gold – 43
    Purple and Black – 23

    QB for Black and Gold – 25 for 37.

    Six touchdowns.

    ********
    December 27, 2015 Ravens 20-17 winners, 3rd string QB, too many starters on IR and they still beat Pig Jen and company.

  35. intrafinesse says: Mar 1, 2016 9:45 AM

    There is a new class of super rich that can afford to own teams.

    Also – it would be better for the sport if teams were professionally run – rather than having bad owners. The teams wouldn’t stink for so long. If teams are owned by several owners, they will be less likely to tolerate a clown mismanaging the team (Haslam, Jed York, etc.)

  36. realfootballfan says: Mar 1, 2016 10:02 AM

    The Bush tax cuts essentially got rid of the federal estate tax, so that’s not an impediment anymore.

  37. realdealsteel says: Mar 1, 2016 10:08 AM

    All these jelous idiots; Steelers are and will be forever the standard in this league.

    Love these Ravens & Patriots Trolls; we have as many Lombardi Trophys as both their teams combined.

    And we’ll be adding a new Lombardi to the Trophy case next year after we fix our secondary.

    Weather you like it or not, you will remain bowing down to the Steelers.

  38. williamshatnerstoupee says: Mar 1, 2016 10:24 AM

    2015:

    Black and Gold – Playoffs
    Purple and Black – 3rd place

    Black and Gold QB – Hall of Fame
    Purple and Black QB – Jump ball

  39. minneanderthals says: Mar 1, 2016 10:58 AM

    Until the squealers get to 13, they’ll be behind the best team in the NFL. And by the time they do get to 13, the Packers will probably add even more.

    Let’s just say it’s a race to 20 and I don’t like pittsburgh’s chances.

    GB is better than everyone else.

  40. youknowiknowitall says: Mar 1, 2016 4:37 PM

    Rooneys are liars and crooks. It’s in their blood.

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