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Steelers’ Dan Rooney through the years |

Steelers’ Dan Rooney through the years

| Thursday, April 13, 2017 4:45 p.m
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers owner Dan Rooney holds the Lombardi Trophy after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006, in Detroit.

July 20, 1932

Rooney is the first member of his family to be born in a hospital.

July 8, 1933

Father Art Rooney Sr. reaches a deal with NFL to establish the Steelers, who were known as the Pirates until 1940.


Starts working for the team as a water boy at age 8, handling chores such as running errands and painting helmets.


Is mentioned in a newspaper headline for the first time when he begins playing football at North Catholic.


Is named second-team Pittsburgh All-Catholic quarterback; Johnny Unitas of St. Justin is first team. Both are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Enrolls briefly at St. Vincent College at his father’s behest but soon switches to Duquesne, his own choice. Remains there even after the school drops football and he is offered a scholarship to play at Villanova.


• Marries Patricia Regan, whom he had begun dating at North Catholic.

• Becomes the Steelers’ training camp manager at age 19, handling payroll and negotiating some contracts.

•Coaches the St. Peter’s grade school team while in college — twin brothers Pat and John are on the team — and has a 9-1 record.


His first child, son Art II, is born. Born later are Pat, Kathleen, Joan, Rita, Jim, Dan, John and Duffy.


• Graduates from Duquesne and begins working in the Steelers’ player personnel department, although he is involved in all facets of the team. Begins attending league meetings with his father.

• The Steelers draft Unitas only to cut him despite the Rooney brothers’ protests. Unitas becomes one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history for the Colts.


• Represents the Steelers by attending the first NFL players union meeting.

• At the Rooneys’ insistence, the NFL ends the regional assignment of game officials and mandates that officials work games in all league cities.


NFL signs its first national TV contract, with CBS. Rooney helps broker a deal that equally divides revenue among all clubs.


Pushes the Steelers to adopt the steel industry logo. Team goes 9-5, its best record to date.


Steelers lose to Giants in final game of regular season. Would have played in their first NFL championship game with a victory.


Rooney takes over the team’s day-to-day operations, although he is without title.


NFL and AFL agree to merge in 1970. The first Super Bowl, though not called that at the time, is played the following season. Rooney later agrees to move the Steelers to the AFC, a shift he initially fought.

With Dan Rooney holding, Art Rooney kicks a ball at the groundbreaking for Three Rivers Stadium in April 1968. AP photo.


• Oversees the hiring of new coach Chuck Noll after initially interviewing Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who chose to stay in that job.

• Two days after Noll is introduced as head coach, Steelers draft little-known defensive lineman Joe Greene in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Art and Dan Rooney in front of their 1970 draft board, with Terry Bradshaw at No. 1.


Steelers play first game in Three Rivers Stadium with first-round draft pick Terry Bradshaw at quarterback. First sellout is on Nov. 8, 1970, as Steelers upset Super Bowl champion Jets and Joe Namath.


Makes the first of many visits to Ireland; 38 years later, he is named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.

Dec. 23, 1972

Steelers go 11-3 and win first division championship, in AFC Central. Franco Harris’ miracle TD catch known as the Immaculate Reception gives the Steelers their first playoff victory in 40 seasons and helps lifts them to an unprecedented decade of winning.


Steeers draft future Hall of Famers Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster in first five rounds of NFL draft; go on to win their first Super Bowl.


Rooney is named team president, a role he’d held unofficially for years. Steelers beat Cowboys to win second Super Bowl in as many seasons.

NFL commissioner Peter Rozelle presents the Super Bowl trophy to Dan Rooney and Chuck Noll after the Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17, to win Super Bowl X. AP photo.


After a 1-4 Steelers start, the Greene-led Steel Curtain defense allows only two touchdowns during a nine-game winning streak. But with both running backs, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier injured and out, Steelers lose to Raiders for AFC title.


Steelers beat the Cowboys in a Super Bowl rematch for their third NFL title.


The Steelers’ dynasty finishes the decade (although the game is played in January 1980) by rallying to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl in Pasadena.


Steelers return to playoffs after sitting out in 1980-81 but win only one game, in 1984, as the stars of the 1970s begin to decline and retire.


Rooney fires brother Art Jr., as scouting director. Two years later, he orders a coaching staff overhaul that nearly leads Noll to resign.

Aug. 25, 1988

Rooney’s father, Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr., dies.


Steelers make 12th and final playoff appearance under Noll, upsetting Oilers in Houston before losing in Denver.


Steelers win final two games but finish 7-9, and Noll retires after 23 seasons. Bill Cowher is hired a few weeks later.


• Steelers go 11-5 and Cowher is chosen as NFL Coach of the Year. They go on to make the playoffs in a record six consecutive seasons.

• Under a plan designed by Rooney, the NFL — for the first time — permits qualified players to become unrestricted free agents.


Steelers, a 10-point favorite, are upset at home by San Diego in AFC championship game.


Steelers beat Colts in AFC title game but lose for the first time in five Super Bowl appearances, to the Cowboys.


Steelers lose at home to John Elway-led Broncos in AFC championship game.


• Rooney fires director of football operations Tom Donahoe following a 6-10 season but retains Cowher. Kevin Colbert succeeds Donahoe and later takes the title of general manager.

• Rooney is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Rooney chooses Greene to present him for enshrinement.

Dan Rooney and Joe Greene at Rooney’s Hall of Fame enshrinement.


Three Rivers Stadium is imploded. Heinz Field — the Steelers’ first football-only stadium — opens. Steelers go 13-3 but are upset by Patriots at home in AFC championship game.


NFL adopts the Rooney Rule, which mandates that teams interview minority candidates for coaching vacancies and, later, other top positions.


Rooney hands off team presidency to son Art II and becomes chairman.


Twenty-one years after passing on Dan Marino in the draft, the Steelers draft QB Ben Roethlisberger in first round. Roethlisberger goes 13-0 as a starter in his rookie season, but Steelers again lose to Patriots at Heinz Field in AFC title game.


Steelers start 7-5 but don’t lose again, becoming the first team to win three road playoff games and the Super Bowl, beating Seattle in Detroit.

Dan Rooney, Roger Goodell, Paul Tagliabue and Jerry Richardson.


Rooney oversees the hiring process that brings in Roger Goodell as commissioner. Later that year, Rooney becomes the first owner to be fined by Goodell, for criticizing game officials.


Cowher resigns following an 8-8 season. Mike Tomlin is hired as head coach.

Dan Rooney stands with Mike Tomlin and Tomlin’s wife, Kiya, at his introductory news conference.


• Dan and Art II acquire league-required 30 percent stake in team by bringing in investors and buying out family members following the NFL’s edict that Rooneys involved in gaming interests no longer be part of ownership group.

Steelers win a record sixth Super Bowl, in Tomlin’s second season, beating Cardinals on Roethlisberger’s last-minute TD throw to Santonio Holmes.

Barack Obama announced during his campaign his intention to nominate Dan Rooney as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.


Rooney named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. He is no longer involved in day-to-day operations of Steelers for first time in his adult life but remains as chairman emeritus.


Steelers play in eighth Super Bowl but lose to Packers in first championship game matchup of the team of the 1960s (Green Bay) and team of the 1970s (Pittsburgh).


Rooney resigns ambassadorship, returns to Steelers as chairman.

April 2017

Rooney dies at age 84.

Categories: Steelers
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