Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Son of the team's founder, Dan Rooney ran the Steelers for nearly three decades.
Awards: Football Hall of Fame
Dan Rooney was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1932. Rooney, the son of Pittsburgh Steelers' founder, Art Rooney, became involved with football at an early age. Rooney began his football career at North Catholic High School, followed by four years at Duquesne University. After graduation, he became employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and was appointed team owner by his father in 1975. In 2000, Rooney proudly joined his father in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Recently, he passed the Steelers' ownership to his son, Art Rooney II; however, Rooney continues to be an integral part of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dan M. Rooney was born July 20, 1932, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Art and Kathleen Rooney. Rooney is the eldest of four brothers, and as a child, he quickly began to admire his father's passion for football. Dan Rooney's father, Art Rooney, founded the Pittsburgh Steelers football team a year after he was born. According to The Ireland Funds, Art Rooney bought the Pittsburgh Steelers for a "princely sum of $2,500" as a gift to Dan Rooney on his very first birthday. At a young age, Dan Rooney took pleasure in watching the Pittsburgh Steelers' practices and training camps, and by the age of twelve, he had the privilege of being the Steelers' water boy. While maintaining sideline jobs with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he attended North Catholic High School. During high school, Rooney's love for football intensified and he enjoyed playing quarterback for North Catholic's football team. As an upperclassman, he competed against several outstanding athletes, including Johnny Unitas, for the top high school quarterback award in Western Pennsylvania. According to Cantonrep.com, Rooney, a little distressed with the results, received "second-team quarterback for Pittsburgh's Catholic All-Star Team. "Dan Rooney graduated from North Catholic High School in 1950.
Rooney's exceptional athletic ability allowed him to continue his football career at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he also concentrated on a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting. After graduating from Duquesne University in 1955, he quickly became employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he accepted a job in Player Personnel. Although Rooney spent copious amounts of time working with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he also was a dedicated husband and caring father. Rooney married Patricia Reagan in 1952, and they had a large family of nine children: Art, Pat, Rita, Dan, Duffy, John, Jim, and Joan, and a daughter Cathleen who passed away at an early age.
When starting out with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rooney worked in the front office and began controlling and overseeing daily activities and functions by the 1960s. In the middle of the 1960, Art Rooney gave Dan Rooney more control and authority of the Pittsburgh Steelers to gain managerial skills and experience.
Before Dan Rooney was officially named the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers by his father, he was an integral part of several football associations and committees. As stated by the Official Site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Rooney worked on the board of directors for the "NFL Trust Fund, NFL Films, and the Scheduling Committee". In 1973, Rooney became chief officer of the Expansion Committee, and in 1976, he was selected as the chief officer of the Negotiating Committee. As stated by the Official Site of the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 1982, Rooney was involved with the "Collective Bargaining Agreement for the NFL and the Players' Association."
In 1975, Art Rooney, more commonly known as "The Chief," quietly appointed Dan Rooney as the team owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to the OfficialSite of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dan Rooney, keeping with his father's tradition and style of ownership, implemented a management style that focuses on "open, practical and efficient administration. "Rooney is also recognized for creating the "Rooney Rule," which requires football teams to make interview processes fair by interviewing at least one individual from a minority group when searching for a new head coach.
During his time as team owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rooney consistently made practical executive decisions when hiring new head coaches. In 1969, Chuck Noll was named head coach and remained with the Steelers for twenty-three years, with Bill Cowher taking his place in 1992. Dan Rooney's style of ownership and management has certainly been efficient and effective. According to the Official Site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, from 1972-2000, the Pittsburgh Steelers won the American Football Conference (AFC) Central Division championship fourteen times, the AFC championship five times, and most impressively, the Steelers's won the Super Bowl four times. Although Rooney's management skills have been successful, he has also made mistakes. One of Rooney's biggest regrets was not selecting the University of Pittsburgh's quarterback, Dan Marino, in the 1983 football draft.
Many avid NFL football fans agree that Dan Rooney is a modest man who is recognized for his customs, traditions, and values. During his childhood, Rooney grew up with a solid Catholic education and faith, and today, he and his family are still deeply rooted in the Pittsburgh Catholic church. Throughout the years, Rooney has been involved with Catholic education and has supported various programs and organizations within the Catholic Church. Dan Rooney is also a member of community organizations including The United Way of America, The American Ireland Fund, and Duquesne University, to name a few. After his father's death, Rooney and his wife moved back to his childhood residence, which is a ten minute walk to Pittsburgh Steelers' Stadium, Heinz Field.
Dan Rooney is also acknowledged for his loyalty and dedication to the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, whether times were good or bad. According to the Official Site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Joe Greene, an ex-Steelers' football player said, "Dan has always led with humility. When things go as planned, Dan is in the background. When things don't go as planned, he's in the forefront. " In 2000, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, just as his father was in 1964. Art and Dan Rooney are the second father/son pair to ever be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 2003, Rooney quietly passed the ownership of the Pittsburgh Steelers to his oldest son, Art Rooney II. Although he no longer holds the title of "President," Rooney is still assisting his son with the team ownership and continues to work with the Pittsburgh Steelers, just as his father, Art Rooney Sr. , had done previous to his death. According to the Official Site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dan Rooney continues to proudly hold membership with the "Management Council Executive Committee, the Hall of Fame Committee, the NFL Properties Executive Committee, and the Player/Club Operations Committee." According to an article written in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roger Goodell, a co-worker of Rooney's for the past two decades, said, "Dan Rooney is the heart and soul of the NFL. His achievements on behalf of Pittsburgh and the NFL are legendary, from building a world-class franchise in Pittsburgh to helping shape league policies and decisions across a wide range of issues. Dan Rooney's accomplishments and achievements as the owner of the Steelers's football team will surely keep the Rooney legacy alive and thriving in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."