Tag Archives: Art Rooney

5 Smoldering Questions, Season Opening Edition

via totalsteelers.com

via totalsteelers.com

by Hombre de Acero

1. Since the new CBA went into effect in 2011, It seems like every September is littered with complaints about sloppy, undisciplined play. The next step is to then cite the practice and contact length and duration limitations imposed by the CBA. 

Which makes sense, except….

… these very same complainers are the ones who howl the loudest about how the preseason is a wretched institution, end-to-end, that ought to be curtailed if not abolished entirely.

Can these two complaints be reconciled or are they inherently contradictorily?

2. Question number two comes with full disclosure. I grew up as a Pittsburgh expat in the DC area and I instinctively learned to actively root against the Redskins during the height of the first Joe Gibbs era. (And for the record, neither of my parents particularly cares/cared about football or sports loyalties in general.)

So now with my confirmation bias firmly on the table:  Given the yesterday’s personality contrast between Art Rooney Sr. and both George Preston Marshall and Jack Kent Cooke and today’s contrast between Dan and Art Rooney II and Daniel Snyder, and given the large number of Pittsburgh expats living in the greater DC Area, is there a latent natural rivalry that the NFL’s divisional and conference structure obscures?

3. It says here that the Steelers decision to trade for Justin Gilbert was a wise move. However, the cynic in me can’t help but observe that the last three players Kevin Colbert acquired via a trade were Felix Jones, Levi Brown and Brandon Boykin….

So, does Justin Gilbert sustain or break the trend?

4. What under-the-radar player’s development are you most anticipating in the coming season?

5. As Bill Cowher’s pre-Ben Roethlisberger Steeler teams so painfully illustrated, the gap separating contenders from pretenders is exponentially smaller than the one standing between contenders and champions. In 2015, the Pittsburgh Steelers reestablished themselves as contenders.

What must happen for the 2016 Steelers to cross that gap?   

You know the drill. Don’t forget to show your work, and be sure and use a No. 2 pencil…

Training Camp for Fans Part Eight: What is the Steeler Way?


Dan Rooney, Bill Nunn, Art Rooney II, Aubrey Bruce  (Photo Thomas Sabol, The New Pittsburgh Courier)

by Ivan Cole

Pittsburgh was the Silicon Valley of the Industrial Age.

That was the assessment of Howard Fineman, Global Editorial Director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, and former Senior Editor of Newsweek. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Fineman, but we have at least three things in common: We both had newspaper routes selling the now defunct Pittsburgh Press, attended and graduated from the same high school, and wrote articles for the inaugural edition of another defunct publication the Steelers Annual.

Fineman made the Silicon Valley reference in his Steelers Annual piece. Over the years I have found myself constantly comparing this to another statement that disguises extraordinary complexity behind a façade of deceptive simplicity. Speaking thirty years ago at the National Press Club in Washington DC, writer James Baldwin was asked what needed to be done to effectively address race relations. His response: America needed to grow up.

Read more

Training Camp for Fans Part 6: The Emergence of Steeler Nation

1934 Pittsburgh [Football] Pirates Team Photo

by Ivan Cole

As noted in his previous post, this series is a continuation of Ivan’s “Training Camp for Fans” series which ran last August. Those links can be accessed below. Back to Ivan…

  1. B. C. (Before Chuck)

You could also, if you choose, refer to this period as B.M.J. (Before Mean Joe) or B.D.R. (Before Dan Rooney). This represents a clear demarcation between the approximate first half of the Steelers’ franchise existence, which was characterized by a losing culture, and the soaring success of the more recent past.

Those like myself who claim this period as our initiation into the Nation share the characteristic of being well grounded—in part, because if you have any memory at all of this period, you are pretty old (hate admitting that). But also because you had to withstand the trials of being immersed within a losing culture. Because of that, and the fact that the NFL and sports generally did not have the reach or popularity that they enjoy today, a fan in this era (no term as fanciful as “Steeler Nation” existed at that time)  was almost certainly indigenous.

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Salute to Service: Steelers in the Military

via Post-Gazette, Peter Diana photo

Last year I wrote an article for Behind the Steel Curtain prior to annual NFL Salute to Service game. Antonio Brown had focused that week’s “What It Is” video on the topic, and during his interviews with various of his teammates, Troy Polamalu commented that the Steelers had a veteran on the team.

He then gave a very moving speech about the men and women who serve our country. No one has a better right to do so, because Polamalu and his wife are very active in raising money to assist veterans as part of their foundation. At the end of the article you will find information on their foundation.

My article was naturally focused on Alejandro Villanueva. I won’t repeat the information, because I did a much more extensive article on him for this site a few months ago as part of my Character (Ac)counts series. You can read it here. I finished the article with these words:

This combination of size and athleticism has to be intriguing [to the Steelers] and I very much hope the Steelers can find a way to put all of that physical talent to use. He already clearly has the sort of heart we wish to see from our players.

According to ProFootballTalk, Villanueva has said that if he does not make an NFL roster, he plans to serve a fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan. He commented, “I see this as a win-win situation. Obviously, I’m trying to get to a team and contribute. But if I can’t, then I can’t wait to get back to the Army and serve in the same manner that I have.”

So from my heart, and the heart of Steeler Nation, I thank you, Captain Villanueva, for your brave service to our country, and I wish you all the best. Whether you ever play a down in an NFL game or not, I’m thankful that we have men like you on our team.

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Things Bigger Than Football: The Chief

via athlonsports.com, from an article naming the ten best owners in sports. The Rooneys hold the No. 1 spot. The Chief would be proud.

Recently Dan Rooney and his wife were honored by the United Way for their four decade involvement with the local United Way. You can read Teresa Varley’s article about it here. This got me to thinking about the many members of the Steelers organization who give back to their community. Generally I’ve focused these sorts of articles on players, and I will do that in later posts.

But today I want to feature the founding member of the franchise. I started to write about the whole family, but there’s just too much to cover in a single article. And where better to begin than the founder?

Being a part of the local community is a concept embedded in the heart of the organization for many years. I recounted recently the story of Art Rooney I and his predilection for hanging out with the groundskeepers. It is a small window into the heart of a man full of contradictions. Read more

The Culture Which Made the Immaculate Extension Possible

Peter Diana photo

As Ivan noted in his article, The Immaculate Extension: A Second Look,

“When I heard it [the term “immaculate extension”] I thought it was a clever, exuberant reaction to what would, ultimately be a mere transitory moment in the yearly journey that football fans travel seeking the grail of entertainment gold; a place in the playoffs over the holidays and, if fortunate, a championship.

Let me invite the reader to carefully consider whether something more significant has occurred.”

Indeed it would turn out to be a much bigger deal even than it seemed at the time.

For Ivan, this puts Mike Tomlin into the exclusive category of great coaches. But there are other ramifications.

Endless discussions have taken place as to how many coaches would have the courage to do that.

Hombre de Acero opined in his game recap for Steel Curtain Rising that it was a trust issue:

Faced with an all or nothing prospect, Mike Tomlin opted to trust the game by putting the ball into the hands of his most talented player on the field.

I don’t dispute either the courage of his convictions Tomlin displayed or the trust he put in his players to get the job done. My contention is, the reason the list for the question “What coach would do that?,” is so short is that few coaches know they have an ownership who will look beyond immediate results in judging the outcome of such things. Read more