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Donahoe: Rooneys made 'a mistake'

| Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Tom Donahoe insists that he harbors no bitterness toward the Steelers.

He does, however, retain some strong feelings about his forced departure four-and-a-half years ago.

Donahoe, then the Steelers' director of football operations, lost a very public power struggle with coach Bill Cowher, who offered to resign after a 6-10 season in 1999.

The Steelers instead asked for and received Donahoe's resignation.

"I think they made a mistake," Donahoe said. "A lot of people in the organization feel they made a mistake. But, you know, you have to run your franchise the way you want to run it, so I don't have any hard feelings."

Donahoe described his relationship with the Rooneys as "cordial."

"When I see (Steelers chairman) Dan, we speak," Donahoe said. "I'd like to think he has the same respect for me that I have for him."

Dan Rooney agrees that the relationship is cordial but obviously does not agree that he made a mistake in choosing Cowher.

"We're very pleased with where we're at," Rooney said. "We've extended Bill's contract (he is signed through the 2007 season), so that pretty much tells you how we feel."

Rooney did not want to go into details about Donahoe.

"Those days are gone," he said. "We talk and things. I don't think evil of him."

The Steelers are 38-25-1 with two playoff appearances since Donahoe left. The Bills are 17-31 without a winning season under Donahoe. Both teams went 6-10 last season.

All expression drained from Donahoe's face when he was asked to characterize his relationship with Cowher, whom he helped to hire in 1992.

"There isn't one," he said.

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