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Reaction to Dan Rooney's death pours in

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, April 13, 2017, 6:39 p.m.
U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney at the ambassador's residence in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Arthur Carron
U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney at the ambassador's residence in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Steelers Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis
Steelers Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
Former Indianapolis Colts head coach, and former Steelers player and assistant Tony Dungy
Former Indianapolis Colts head coach, and former Steelers player and assistant Tony Dungy

The death of Steelers chairman Dan Rooney drew reaction from across the country on Thursday:

“Pittsburgh, and our nation, owes immeasurable gratitude to Ambassador Rooney. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for your devotion to your family and the Steeler nation. Thank you for all you have done for Pittsburgh.”

— Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto

“The contributions that Dan Rooney made to Pittsburgh are immeasurable. Those of us who grew up in the ‘70s know how his leadership of the Steelers took a team that hadn't been successful into one that became extremely successful, and provided a source of pride to all of us in western Pennsylvania.

“But beyond that, he used his influence to transform the NFL. His institution of concepts like the ‘Rooney Rule' and leadership on many issues set a great example for the generations to follow.

“He was a proud North Sider who was always committed to his neighborhood. I got to spend an afternoon going around his old neighborhood as he talked with pride about the people he grew up with, the things that transpired in his neighborhood, and how he was excited about Pittsburgh's resurgence.

“His work was even felt on an international stage through his help to bring peace in Ireland. While he traveled the world as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and an ambassador for the NFL, he was always a Pittsburgher to his core and was always thinking about what was best for his neighborhood and his city.

“The thoughts and prayers of this entire region go out to the entire Rooney family.”

— Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald

“At NFL meetings very few owners treated all team/league personnel with same kindness and respect afforded to other owners. Dan Rooney did.”

— ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt via Twitter

“One of the most genuine, and humble human beings I've had the pleasure of knowing.”

— Steelers receiver Antonio Brown

“Dan Rooney, through his long association with the Steelers, will be remembered as a strong, successful leader and a good man, devoted to his family, to his parish church, and to his many friends. We at Saint Vincent mourn his loss and are grateful for the many years of friendship.”

— Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., St. Vincent Archabbey, College and Seminary

“Dan Rooney was one of the greatest owners in all of professional sports. More than that he was a great friend who was a man of principle and a role model for any of us privileged to be a part of the NFL. He leaves a legacy on our sport that will last for generations.”

— New York Giants President and CEO John Mara

“Dan Rooney was a great friend of mine, but more importantly, he was a great friend to the people of Pittsburgh, a model citizen and someone who represented the United States with dignity and grace on the world stage.

“I knew he'd do a wonderful job when I named him as our United States Ambassador to Ireland, but naturally, he surpassed my high expectations, and I know the people of Ireland think fondly of him today.

“And I know the people of Pittsburgh who loved him not only for the Super Bowl championships he brought as the owner of the Steelers, but for his generosity of spirit, mourn his passing today.

“Michelle and I offer our condolences to the Rooney family, some of the most gracious and thoughtful people we know — even as we celebrate the life of Dan Rooney, a championship-caliber good man.”

— Former President Barack Obama

“Few men have contributed as much to the National Football League as Dan Rooney. He was one of the finest men in the history of the game.”

— NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

“Thoughts and prayers to friends & family of Mr. Dan Rooney. North Catholic & the Burgh are eternally grateful for everything you have done.”

— Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic football on Twitter

“He was a Pittsburgh guy, the old Pittsburgh and the new Pittsburgh. He was able to walk between both worlds. Dan brought this team forward to be reckoned with in the ‘80s, ‘90s and on until now. He continued to change and progress and go forward.

The Rooney Rule was one of the outstanding things that has been done in terms of diversity in the league.”

— USC athletic director and Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann

“It's painful. You knew this day would come, but you never wanted to realize (it). He had an amazing way of reaching out and not saying much, but maybe a hug or, ‘Hey, J.B. What's going on?' Something that really resonated with you and that you said, ‘Wow, that's pretty cool.' You were always willing to go further, do more for the organiztion than you probably wouldn't have under ordinary circumstances.”

— Steelers Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis

On the Rooney Rule:

“It's been no question a positive. It's provided an opportunity for minorities to be interviewed. It's made a significant impact in the whole hiring process.

On Dan Rooney:

“Obviously, this is one of the pillars of the league. His running of the Steelers for so long, from generation to generation, spanning through three different commissioners and so forth, it's a daily operation for the Rooney family. It's their team, their lifeblood. It's what they care about. They're very personable. Even after moving on from Pittsburgh, and it's been quite a while, he would stop by our locker room and say hello every time we played the Steelers. He's been very impactful on me, with his sincerity and how he treated people.”

— Cincinnati Bengals head coach and former Steelers assistant Marvin Lewis

“Dan Rooney was one of the special men of our time. He had such a positive impact on so many people, not just in the in the sport of football but in life. I was truly blessed to have been around him for the 10 years I played and worked for the Steelers, and Dan played a major role in my development as a coach and a man. We will miss him but his impact on the NFL, and on the city of Pittsburgh will continue to be felt for years to come.”

— Former Indianapolis Colts head coach, Steelers player and assistant Tony Dungy

“He was a great man. I was there with him for 45 years. Everything I have I owe to (the Rooney family), Chuck (Noll) and Bill (Cowher).

“He was an every day guy. If you didn't know he was the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you would have thought he was some guy who lived next door to you.

“I had a chance to leave Pittsburgh for better jobs, but I never wanted to go. I was happy with the way they treated me.”

— Former Steelers running back and assistant coach Dick Hoak

“We at the Pirates are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dan Rooney. A dedicated family man, Dan was a visionary leader in the NFL, in the United States Foreign Service and for the City of Pittsburgh that he loved so much. He positively and fundamentally changed the lives of so many.

“Personally I have deep appreciation and respect for Mr. Rooney. He was always there for me to offer guidance and perspective as only he could. He and the Rooney family set the standard for an ideal owner of a sports franchise. I am honored and lucky to have been able to call him a friend and mentor.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rooney family, the Steelers and Steelers Nation on this very sad day.”

— Pirates chairman Bob Nutting

“He was always a league guy first. Some of the people running clubs in this league are like star players who are only interested in what goes on in their situation. For those of us who aren't planning on selling our teams and understand how privileged we are to own them, he was a great role model of how to always put the league first. He just was a very kind, paternalistic good human being.”

— New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft

“Dan Rooney was an innovative leader who forever shaped the sport of football and the city of Pittsburgh. His knack for resolving conflict, championing diversity and pursuing excellence with integrity earned him not only Super Bowl rings, but our collective admiration and affection. On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh, I extend my deepest sympathies to the entire Rooney family and the Steelers franchise.”

— Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher

“A truly unforgettable and special moment for me was getting a personal visit from Dan Rooney after I had just accepted the head coaching job at Pitt. This is a man who built one of the most successful and famous sports organizations in the world, yet he was always so humble and accessible to everyone. Mr. Rooney represents the very best of the game of football and the very best of Pittsburgh.

“I don't believe this unique collaboration between an NFL team and college program could exist anywhere else. The credit for that goes to Mr. Rooney and his passionate commitment to Pitt and Pittsburgh.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the Rooney family and Steelers organization.”

— Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi

“Growing up in Canton in the shadow of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I became educated very early on about ‘The Steeler Way' and the incredible family tradition of this iconic NFL franchise. Since arriving in Pittsburgh last month, I have been able to experience firsthand the tremendous class and warmth of the Rooney family. Dan Rooney has an incredible legacy that goes well beyond the football field and we will all continue to be inspired by his example and memory. Our prayers and sympathies are with the Rooney family and all of Steelers Nation.”

— Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke

“Mr. Rooney had a tremendous liking and support for football in general but high school football specifically. He was obviously one of the people who made it possible for WPIAL kids to play at Three Rivers and now at Heinz Field. He was totally committed to providing the kids an opportunity to play in the best venue in Pittsburgh. He thought so highly of the sport and the kids who played it.

“We're so very appreciative for what he provided to us. I'm sure it will continue because the Steelers organization has been a strong supporter of high school football, but his presence will sorely be missed.”

— WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley

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