Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How will Rooney's loss affect things

Many have wondered how the naming of Dan Rooney as ambassador to Ireland by the Obama administration would affect the Steelers.

The answer has different levels.

In terms of the football product, not having Rooney around on a daily basis won't affect things.

Dan's son, Art, has been running the team for several years now and has done a good job of it - as the results would show.

He's taken on the role Dan Rooney had when his father, The Chief, was still around. Dan made the daily decisions and consulted his father on anything major. Art will still have that luxury, as Dan will still just be a phone call away.

But the players like seeing the boss around.

To this day, he still visits the locker room on a regular basis and speaks with them – privately – congratulating them for a big win or helping to console them after a loss. But he doesn't do so in a Jerry Jones, in-your-face kind of matter. Rooney leaves the coaching to the coaches. There are no rah-rah speeches coming from Dan Rooney.

And they would see him around, watching practice or in the hallway or cafeteria.

The players respect that a great deal.

Perhaps some day Art will get that same kind of reverence. But it likely only comes with age.

The players respect Dan because, well, he's Dan. And that's what will be missing.


Viz-Burgh said...

I agree that the personal touch of the ownership will be what's lost. The Chief was notoriously chummy with the players & a fantastic guy. Every player loved him. When Dan took over he was much more business-like, but still maintained that personable attitude & interaction with the players. Art II doesn't seem to have that nearly as much as his father & he's even more toward the business side.

What could be lost is the true closeness & family atmosphere in the locker room between the ownership & the players. And that's one of the biggest differences between the Steelers and many other teams IMO.

Dale Lolley said...

I think Art II will take a page out of his dad's book and take on more of that. Dan did it after watching his dad all those years.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Art seems kinda stiff but he might take on Dan's role more when Dan is gone.

Viz-Burgh said...

It just seems that generation by generation it has lessened. You started with The Chief who was too much on the friendly side & didn't handle the business end well (as far as building winners, etc.) I think Dan saw so much of that it had to rub off on him, hence his actions. But if some of Dan rubs off on Art II I still think they're will be a significant drop off in the personal touch. Art seems very business like & methodical. Look at Cowher's reaction during the Super Bowl XL time. He was thrilled to hand that trophy to Dan but barely made eye contact with Art II. It was clear who he was really striving for there.

Maybe you're right Dale, maybe Art will soften now that he will be the public face & the head guy around the building. But I don't think it's in his nature.

Dale Lolley said...

Let's be honest, the NFL has changed remarkably, even in the 17 years I've been covering it.
It's become much more business-like as a whole, which is what you should expect when every team is worth a billion or more dollars.

Viz-Burgh said...

I thought Dan walked the line very well between handling business, doing what was best for the team, and yet still showing genuine personal interest in his players & fostering involvement with the fans / community. And he did that right up through that change that you're discussing.

Just because changes happen doesn't mean we should willingly & happily let go of what the team dynamic has been for 76 years - family owned and operated with a family atmosphere.

I'm not trying to put Art II down either. He's just got very big shoes to fill & I wish him the best in continuing a legacy. We won't know how that will play out for probably five years or so as he grows into the fullness of the position that he's assuming.

Chris Hein said...

Dale, do you have any thoughts on the effect of Dan's leaving on the whole league? It seems he was always a steadying presence amongst the owners. Do you believe Art will pick up any of this influence or desire to influence things at the league level?

Dale Lolley said...

Dan was very, very respected by the other owners. I'm sure he'll still be involved as a consultant on big things - particularly with the commissioner and with Art.
But as for attending meetings and being the voice of reason there, that's likely gone.