Dan Rooney was a great guy. That’s being justifiably belabored all over the media. It can’t be said enough, or with enough emphasis.
But when it came to football, Rooney was a miracle worker.
The Steelers were founded in 1933 by Art Rooney, Dan’s father. From 1933-1968, the Steelers had six winning seasons, one division championship, and one playoff berth. That’s not much haul over 36 years.
Art Rooney, like his son, was a good man. But he wasn’t very good at running his football team.
Dan Rooney took over the Steelers’ day-to-day operations in 1969. His philosophy was simple: Hire the right people, trust them to do their jobs, and be patient.
Dan’s first coaching hire, Chuck Noll, went 12-30 over his first three seasons. Jerry Jones would have fired him.
Dan Rooney didn’t. Noll did OK after that.
The Steelers made the playoffs in 1972, Dan’s fourth year in charge. They won the Super Bowl two seasons later, Dan’s sixth in charge.
And then the Steelers, under Dan Rooney…JUST. KEPT. WINNING.
It wasn’t rebuilding, because nothing had been built. It was harder than starting from scratch, because a lot of mistakes had to be undone.
Dan Rooney turned the NFL’s biggest loser into the NFL’s biggest winner in six years. He took a pile of excrement and shaped it like Michelangelo.
It was miraculous, and it was magnificent.
Dan Rooney, RIP. The Steelers you love will always be his creation.