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HISTORY INDEX | THIRTIES PIRATES | FORTIES STEELERS | FIFTIES STEELERS | SIXTIES STEELERS

 

AP photo of Dan Rooney and Chuck NollThis is the second part of the previous article I posted about Dan Rooney and was printed in the News (Frederick, Maryland) with an AP tag four months after the Steelers won their first Super Bowl.

The first major change to the Steelers which turned them into winners, after too long as the Same Old Steelers, transpired at the end of the sixties. Dan Rooney took over the day to day running of the Steelers when the team was seeking a new head coach.  Rooney was instrumental in hiring Chuck Noll and they brought four Lombardi trophies back to Pittsburgh.

For all the years with Art Rooney at the head, they were known as Rooney University. Under Dan Rooney, they became the Pittsburgh Steelers and learnt how to win consistently.

DAN ROONEY MAKES THE STEELERS TICK PART TWO

Dan sees himself and the Steelers as image makers. He created the steel emblem the organisation uses and he held a Steel Day at the team’s training site in Latrobe and invited officials from steel companies.

“People look to the Steelers for pleasure,” Rooney acknowledged. “The Steelers have a major part in what Pittsburgh is and what it’s going to be. It’s a subtle thing, but when people outside of the city think of Pittsburgh, they don’t think of U.S. Steel or Heinz Co. The Steelers or the Pirates are the first things that come to their mind.”

As a youth, Dan Rooney dreamed of being an architect, studied accounting but loved the Steelers. He began working at the training camp at the age of 14.

“I’m the oldest and I had first crack at being general manager and I liked the business.”

While attending Duquesne University, he worked summers for a construction company in which his father had part ownership. “I really related to the thing. I did well. First labouring, then I started making out schedules, finally ended up running a batch plant. My father saw that and asked me if I wanted to stay in the business. I said ‘no.’ As soon as training camp started, I’d go to camp.”

Dan Rooney could have gone into the racing business as his father owned a farm in Maryland. “But I didn’t have a whole lot of interest other than going there and having a good time,” he says.

“Then he started getting into the horse track business and asked if I wanted to get into it. He always saw that the football club had great limitations. But I said ‘no’ again and I started to work for the club on a fulltime basis after college.”

He sold program ads, put the program together before finally moving into the front office. From there it was making the minor decisions and keeping in daily contact with the league office.

“When you are available for small decisions, you’re also available for the big decisions.”

His first one came in 1963 when President John Kennedy was shot. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle had to decide if games would be played that Sunday and Dan conferred with Rozelle. “I felt we shouldn’t play the game, but as soon as he made the decision I immediately said ‘okay.’ I believe that when a person in authority makes a decision, people should get behind it.

Dan Rooney never fails to give his father credit for the part he’s played in his life. “My father has set the stage, he brough me up. He’s given me great guidance. I am what I am to a great extent because of my association with him. And that’s important.

“There is no way I could have gotten to where I am in the organisation without him. I couldn’t have competed with him for publicity. He handles that so well. A lot of people can’t. It goes to their head. The organisation just wouldn’t have worked as well if I had been that way.”

“We’re not going to be short any challenges just because we have won a Super Bowl. That’s the goal every year. But I’m going to be spending more of my time developing new sources of revenue for the club. Inflation has hit us hard.”

The first part of this article can be found here>>>

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Ben's early Steelers games.

The Pittsburgh Americans' 1936 season added June 2020.

The Steelers 1979 season in full.
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The Steelers 1975 season in full.
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The first NFL champions the 1902 Pittsburgh Stars added June 2016

The Pittsburgh Americans added August 2015.

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