For the family and friends of Daniel Milton Rooney, his passing Thursday, April 13 means the voice of a caring husband and loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather is no longer there. The fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers lost one of their own from the North Side. The National Football League lost a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the creator of the Rooney Rule that advocated diversity in hiring NFL coaches. Our country lost an active philanthropist and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. The iconic son of the Steel City was 84.
Here are quotes, comments, and reflections about the heart and soul of the Black and Gold over the last few days.
The Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko talked with former special teams coach Paul Uram, who worked for the Steelers from 1973 to 1981. Uram came to the public viewing at Heinz Field from Butler Monday afternoon and said about his boss, “Dan, he was close to everybody. Coaches, players, regardless, anybody who worked in the organization, Dan was always there. People always came first; Dan was last. I had all the respect in the world for him.”
Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh told the Tribune-Review on Good Friday about Rooney, “Dan Rooney was a quintessential Pittsburgher who showed us how to lead with humility and faith.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on the league’s website and reported by Judy Battista, “Few men have contributed as much to the National Football League as Dan Rooney. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was one of the finest men in the history of our game and it was a privilege to work alongside him for so many years. Dan’s dedication to the game, to the players and coaches, to his beloved Pittsburgh, and to Steelers fans everywhere was unparalleled. He was a role model and trusted colleague to commissioners since Bert Bell, countless NFL owners, and so many others in and out of the NFL. A voice of reason on a wide range of topics, including diversity and labor relations, Dan always had the league’s best interests at heart. For my part, Dan’s friendship and counsel were both inspiring and irreplaceable. My heart goes out to Patricia, Art, and the entire Rooney family on the loss of this extraordinary man.”
Mark Kaboly of dkpittsburghsports.com (subscription service) with head coach Mike Tomlin’s statement, “In 2007, Mr. Rooney afforded me the opportunity to lead the football team he helped guide throughout his life. For that, I am forever grateful and am honored to have done so. — After every game, win or lose, Mr. Rooney would enter our locker room, look me in my eye and shake my hand along with every player who stepped foot on the field. He embodied professionalism and was a man who created a family-like atmosphere that will continue on. Football examples only scratch the surface of how he impacted mine and the countless other lives he touched. The passing of Mr. Rooney is a difficult time, not just for myself, the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and the National Football League. But for everyone in the City of Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation.”
Wide receiver Antonio Brown wrote about Rooney on his Twitter account, “Dear Mr. Rooney, When we first met in 2010 you embraced me with open arms. You made me feel welcome. You looked at me as more than just another jersey number. One of the most genuine, and humble human beings I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. You motivated me not only to excel on the field but also in life. This season, the number 84 on my uniform will represent the 84 years you spent on this earth making an impact on the lives of others. I’ll miss you my friend. Thank you for everything”
Former head coach Bill Cowher had this to say about Rooney on WTAE Action 4 News, “People always ask, ‘What is the mystique of the Steelers?’ It’s a really hard question to answer, but I can just say this: He built a culture that was based on two things — humility and responsibility. The responsibility that goes with being a Pittsburgh Steeler, the responsibility that goes with giving back to the community, and the humility to understand that when you have success, you don’t take yourself too serious. He built that, and I think we all learned from that. It was a culture that he created, and I think it permeated throughout the building because it always starts right at the top.”
Retired strong safety Troy Polamalu’s comment from his Twitter account, “We’ve lost the heart & soul of Steeler Nation. Incredible person humanitarian & true patriot. May his memory be eternal. Love U PapaRooney.”
Sean Gentille of the Post-Gazette likes the idea of one of the fans on Twitter who thinks a statue of DMR standing behind the statue of his father, Art Rooney, Sr. at Heinz Field, with his hand on his shoulder would be the right tribute. My hope is the team follows through on this suggestion.
Video Is From ESPN On YouTube.com – Jerome Bettis Says Dan Rooney Meant Everything To Steelers | SC6 | April 13, 2017…