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Steelers chairman emeritus Rooney makes stop at owners meeting

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The hiatus turned out to be a relatively short one. Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney is back at the NFL owners meeting after missing last year's gathering because of his day job.

Rooney downplayed his presence at the meetings even though there are strong indications that the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland will step down from his current post after 2012.

"It's great to be here," Rooney said Monday, "but my job is in Ireland. I take it very seriously."

His travel itinerary suggests as much. Rooney is going back to Pittsburgh on Thursday and then taking just one day off before returning to Ireland. While not involved in the day-to-day operations of the Steelers, Rooney is still involved with the team. He said the releases of veteran such as James Farrior, Hines Ward and Aaron Smith are an unfortunate part of the business side of the NFL. Rooney added that they will always have a place in the organization.

"Those guys were great players, and they're tremendous people," Rooney said. "You hope they continue to have an association with us, and I think they will. They're always welcome to come back and see us."

> > The Steelers were given three compensatory picks — all in the seventh round — in next month's draft. The NFL awarded 32 compensatory picks to 15 different teams, with the Browns, New York Jets and Green Bay Packers all getting four extra picks. The compensation awarded to the Steelers gives them four selections in the seventh and final round of the draft and 10 overall. Past seventh-round picks by the Steelers include running back Baron Batch (2011), tight end David Johnson ('09) and defensive end Brett Keisel ('02).

Compensatory picks are awarded based on a formula of free-agent gains and losses. They cannot be traded. The Steelers lost linebacker Keyaron Fox, tight end Matt Spaeth and defensive end Nick Eason last year, and they signed tight end John Gilmore. who he did not make the team.

> > Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who has kept a low profile since a Jan. 8 playoff loss in Denver, will talk to the media Tuesday at the AFC coaches' breakfast. There is no word on whether New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton will talk at the NFC coaches' breakfast Wednesday. Payton has been suspended for the 2012 season for his role in an illegal bounty system and attempts to cover it up. Payton's suspension doesn't start until April 1, and commissioner Roger Goodell said he left it up to Saints owner Tom Benson regarding Payton's attendance at the owners' meetings.

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