The NFL world is in mourning this week after Dan Rooney, the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers chairman who helped shape the modern National Football League and was one of the last surviving links to its founders, died on Thursday. He was 84 years-old.
The New York Times reported that Rooney’s death was announced on the Steelers’ website.
“My father meant so much to all of us, and so much to so many past and present members of the Steelers organization,” said Rooney’s son, the team president Arthur Rooney II. “He gave his heart and soul to the Steelers, the National Football League and the City of Pittsburgh.”
Rooney’s health had deteriorated rapidly over the past few weeks, and he was unable to attend the league’s annual meeting in Phoenix in late March. Commissioner Roger Goodell praised Rooney during a speech there about his service to the NFL, and flew to Pittsburgh to see him immediately after it ended.
Rooney was born one year before his father Art bought the Steelers in 1933, so he was part of the team all his life. He still worked his way up the ladder, however, starting out as a water boy and holding nearly every job in the team’s front office, eventually becoming chairman.
During Rooney’s time with the team, the Steelers became one of the league’s most successful franchises, winning six Super Bowl titles, more than any other team.
“Football and the Steelers have taught me lessons about perseverance,” Rooney once said, “the belief in possibilities, the expansion of boundaries, the kindness of people and the unpredictability of life.”
Rest in peace, Dan Rooney!