The Pittsburgh Steelers announced the death of owner and chairman Dan Rooney at age 84 on Thursday.
Rooney was the son of Art Rooney, the first owner of the team, and he eventually inherited the team, serving as its president from 1975 until 2002. His contributions to the sport of football and the NFL — which included the institution of the “Rooney Rule” and required minority candidates to be interviewed for coaching and executive positions — Rooney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
“Few men have contributed as much to the National Football League as Dan Rooney,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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 player and coaches, to his beloved Pittsburgh, and to Steelers 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.”
In addition to his contributions to football, Rooney also served as the United States Ambassador to Ireland under President Barack Obama from 2009 until 2012.
The oldest of Rooney’s nine children, Art II, currently serves as the president of the Steelers, a position he took over in 2003.