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Things Bigger than Football: The Younger Rooneys

via Post-Gazette: a young Dan Rooney, undated photograph

As you reach my advanced age, words like “Younger” become entirely relative. They are younger than The Chief, naturally…

As I noted in my story about The Chief, it began as a story about the Rooney family in total. But a quick Google search on the founder of the Rooney empire made it clear that it was a stand-alone story. So today I tackle the next generations.

Because of his long history and the kind of man he is, I will naturally be focusing on Dan Rooney. But before I do that I want to mention his brother, Art Jr.

In a lovely 2013 Post-Gazette article, author J. Brady McCollough reveals that Art Jr. was somewhat of a black sheep to his father:

There were no gray areas as far as he [The Chief] was concerned. Art Jr. remembered him once saying “show me a musician and I’ll show you a bum,” and he assumed that logic applied also to actors. Still, after graduating from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Art Jr. decided to go to acting school in New York. His father paid for it — begrudgingly.

“He thought it was terrible,” Art Jr. says. “Terrible.”

Rooney Jr. didn’t stay in New York—drama school was not a success—but came back to Pittsburgh and took a job with the team selling tickets, which was not a particularly easy thing to do, back when the team was known as the “same old Steelers.” But Art Jr. had played football in college and persuaded The Chief to let him work on scouting. He eventually came to run the scouting department, and between him and Bill Nunn put together some unrivaled teams.

He would eventually be fired by Dan Rooney, and their father didn’t stand in the way. Read more