The Steelers announced the death of team chairman Dan Rooney at the age of 84 on Thursday afternoon.
As the eldest son of franchise founder Art Rooney, Dan Rooney spent his entire life around the Steelers and steadily took on more of the responsibility for running the franchise throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. He was named team president in 1975 amid the team’s run of four Super Bowl titles in six years behind coach Chuck Noll, who Rooney had a heavy hand in hiring, and players brought into the franchise under his direction.
Rooney assumed the chairman role when his father died in 1988 and remained heavily involved with the team until being named the United States Ambassdor to Ireland by President Obama in 2009. He served in that role until 2012. That long and stable run in control of the team was duplicated on the sideline as Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin are the only men to coach the Steelers since 1969. All three coached Super Bowl winners and the Steelers have had just 10 losing seasons since Noll took over.
His impact on the league can be felt with the existence of the Rooney Rule, which was instituted in 2000 and requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and General Manager jobs. He was active in several other aspects of league affairs, including negotiating television deals as far back as the early 1960s and working to end work stoppages in the 1980s.
Our condolences to the Rooney and Steelers families on their loss.