It’s hard to find a consensus on anything in the National Football League, but it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who didn’t respect longtime Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.
Rooney died on Thursday at the age of 84. Shortly after the team announced the news, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a heartfelt statement that summed up the feelings of just about everyone associated with the NFL.
“Few men have contributed as much to the National Football League as Dan Rooney,” 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 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.”
There was an immediate outpouring of grief for Rooney, who led the Steelers through many championship seasons. His legacy will also live on in the “Rooney Rule,” which states teams must interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching position. The rule was made after Rooney became frustrated after the firings of Tony Dungy and Herman Edwards in 2002.
Rooney is an enormous figure in Pittsburgh, and some of the most well-known Steelers took the time to show their respect for Rooney, as Goodell did in his statement.
RIP Dan. My Mentor & friend. Thank you for your Guidance & Wisdom. I came a Young Coach & left a Better Man. Your spirit will live forever.
— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) April 13, 2017
We've lost the heart & soul of Steeler Nation. Incredible person humanitarian & true patriot. May his memory be eternal. Love U PapaRooney
— Troy Polamalu (@tpolamalu) April 13, 2017
Today we lost a great one! I wouldn't be a Steeler if it wasn't for Mr Rooney! We will miss you dearly! Love you DMR! — Ben pic.twitter.com/94jtHKKeFO
— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) April 13, 2017
Fellow NFL owners also shared their thoughts on Rooney’s death, and his legacy. Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson called Rooney a cornerstone of the NFL:
Statement from Jerry Richardson on the passing of Dan Rooney pic.twitter.com/2UCqZDhXBL
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 13, 2017
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