The NFL world lost a visionary and groundbreaker when chairman Dan Rooney died today at the age of 84. The Pittsburgh Steelers organization confirmed his death but there are no other details surrounding the death of the legendary Steelers’ owner. Art Rooney had run the Steelers organization since 1960. His father, Art Rooney, founded the Steelers’ organization in 1933.

The legacy of Dan Rooney

Dan Rooney took over the operation of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1960 and quickly turned them into a championship team. With Rooney leading the way, Pittsburgh drafted quarterback Terry Bradshaw and then took part in drafting the 1974 NFL Draft class, which produced four NFL Hall of Fame stars in Mike Webster, John Stallworth, Jack Lambert, and Lynn Swann.

With that team, the Steelers won four Super Bowls in a six-year period. While he relinquished control over the years, Rooney remained connected with the team up until his death, meaning he was also there for their resurgence under Ben Roethlisberger, who led the team to three Super Bowls in a six-year timeframe, winning two of them.

However, it wasn’t just his contributions to building a winning team with the Steelers that made Dan Rooney a huge name in the NFL. He was also responsible for the Rooney Rule, which the NFL created in 2003. This rule forces teams to interview minority candidates when looking at head coaching and upper office positions. Rooney served as part of the NFL diversity committee.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pointed out the diversity and labor relations issues when discussing how important Rooney was to the NFL.

Tributes to Dan Rooney

Roger Goodell said that Dan Rooney was a huge presence in the NFL and contributed more to the league than almost anyone. He called him a role model who had the best interests of the NFL at heart.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said that Rooney was always a great person who made him feel welcome and called him both genuine and humble. Brown said that his number of 84 will now always represent Dan Rooney.

Dan Rooney was also appointed as a U.S. Ambassador to Ireland by President Barack Obama in 2009. President Obama said that Dan was a friend of his and a friend to the people of Pittsburgh.

He said that Dan represented the United States with grace and dignity. Ben Roethlisberger said that Rooney was always around so that Steelers players and coaches could see and talk to him, something that proves he cared about them. Finally, former head coach Bill Cowher called Dan Rooney a mentor and friend and thanked him for his guidance and wisdom.