| || |
March 18, 2009 - John Mehno
Will Dan Rooney's appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland have an impact on the Steelers?
Yes and no. There will be much less time on site for a man who has always had a hands-on presence. But while Rooney has always been in the office on a regular basis, much of the decision-making has been quietly transferred to his son, Art II, over the past decade. The Steelers used to operate one of the leanest front office operations in sports. Everyone had multiple responsibilities. Jim Boston, whose official title was traveling secretary, also negotiated contracts and oversaw security and stadium operations on game days. Those days are long gone, and the Steelers' team directory now takes up two pages in the media guide.
They're run like the multi-million dollar entertainment entity that they are. They have specialists for marketing and community outreach and for booking non-football events at Heinz Field. Art Rooney II is from a different generation, so he brings a different approach. He isn't as folksy as his father, who wasn't quite the same as his father in that department. Art Rooney II is a lawyer by training, and he brings those skills to the table. Working for the Steelers was the only job Dan Rooney ever had.
One of Dan Rooney's greatest assets is the respect he commands around the league. His experience and level-headed thinking have been of great benefit to three commissioners.
Apart from his family, Dan Rooney holds the Steelers and Ireland dear. So when this diplomatic post came along, he wasn't about to turn it down, even though it will greatly alter his routine. Fear not, though. With the resolution of the ownership situation (still yet to be officially finalized), there's still a Rooney running the Steelers. It's just that the torch has been passed for the second time in franchise history.