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Dan Rooney

Ambassador Rooney

Incumbent
Assumed office 
July 3, 2009
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Thomas C. Foley

Incumbent
Assumed office 
2003
Preceded by Vacant, last held by Art Rooney

In office
1975 – 2002
Preceded by Art Rooney
Succeeded by Art Rooney II

Born July 20, 1932 (1932-07-20) (age 77)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Alma mater Duquesne University
Profession NFL Owner
Awards Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2000
Commander of the British Empire (honorary)

Daniel M. Rooney CBE (born July 20, 1932 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is the American owner and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team in the National Football League (NFL) and United States Ambassador to Ireland.[1]. He is the son of team founder and former owner Art Rooney. Rooney was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 for his great success as an owner. He is also credited for coming up with the "Rooney Rule," which requires NFL teams with head coaching and general manager vacancies to interview at least one minority candidate.

Rooney is also co-founder of the Ireland-related fundraising organization, The Ireland Funds.

Contents

Biography

In the Steelers organization, Rooney was appointed team president in 1975 and was given a great deal of power by his father. During his tenure, he has implemented a philosophy and management style that emphasizes open, practical and efficient management. The results have been obvious: since 1972, the Steelers have been AFC Central Division champions 14 times, AFC champions seven times, and Super Bowl champions six times. Rooney became outright owner of the team in 1988, following the death of his father. Since 2003, Rooney has somewhat limited his control of the franchise, giving more power to son Art Rooney II.

Rooney, left, with President of the United States George W. Bush at the White House in June 2006 on the occasion of the commemoration of the Steelers' winning Super Bowl XL (Lombardi Trophy in foreground).

Dan Rooney is a graduate of Duquesne University, majoring in accounting. He has been involved with the Steelers since 1960, originally working as director of personnel. While Rooney has generally avoided the spotlight, he has been a very active owner behind the scenes. Rooney helped to negotiate the collective bargaining agreement of 1982, which ended a strike that lasted half of the season. He is also one of the architects of the salary cap, which was implemented in 1993. He endorsed Barack Obama for president, stating, "When I think of Barack Obama’s America I have great hope. I support his candidacy and look forward to his Presidency."[2] Rooney is the benefactor of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and Vice-Chairman of The American Ireland Fund. He is also a Founding Chairman of The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania.[3] In 2008, Rooney became an honorary Commander of the British Empire.[4] In 2009 he won the 2009 Jack Horrigan Memorial Award, presented by the Professional Football Writers of America[5] to a professional football official or player "for his or her professionalism in helping football writers do their job".

He was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Sy Snyder's Power 50" list of influential individuals in Pennsylvania politics in 2002.[6]

Sale of the Steelers

On July 7, 2008, Dan and his son, team president Art Rooney II, announced that they were seeking to buy out Dan Rooney's brothers' shares in the team. The team initially said that some of Rooney's four brothers want to "get out of the NFL and focus their business efforts on their racetracks and other interests." This was report in The Wall Street Journal's Web site that the Steelers have "been secretly shopped to potential buyers amid continuing divisions among the five sons of the team's founder, Art Rooney Sr."[7] This forced the Steelers to announce that prolonged, ongoing negotiations were under way concerning the "restructuring" of ownership, which could result in the sale of the franchise or a consolidation of control within the Rooney family. Discussions have supposedly been taking place for two years. The team said that chairman Dan Rooney and his son, president Art Rooney II, are trying to buy Dan's brothers' shares in order to "ensure compliance with NFL ownership policies." Dan and Art Rooney II, reportedly control 16 percent of the Steelers' shares but conduct most of the team's operations. Together, the Rooneys hold 80 percent of the company. The other 20 percent is owned by the McGinley Family, who are first cousins of the Rooneys.

The policies refer to The Rooney family's gambling operation. The family owns racetracks in New York and Florida, and the team said "these facilities have added forms of gaming that are inconsistent with NFL gambling policy." The racetracks that were owned by the Rooney's recently received slot machines. According to league policy, no NFL owner may own, directly or indirectly, any interests in a gambling casino. The NFL defines any facility with slot machines as a casino.

One of the Rooneys' interests called into question are the Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track outside of New York City, which was purchased by the five Rooney brothers in 1972. The facility recently added video gaming machines, slot machines, and now has 5,300 such games, according to its Web site. The other interest is the Palm Beach Kennel Club, a Greyhound racetrack in West Palm Beach, Fla. The track was purchased by Art Rooney Sr. and his five sons bought the track in 1970. The facility advertises poker rooms on its Web site.[8]

Rooney in October 2008

The Steelers' statement said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has asked former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to "serve as a league representative in discussions with the family in order to reach an agreement on the separation of the gambling interests and on a restructuring of ownership if the team is sold." Any sale involving an NFL team is subject to a league review and must be approved by 75 percent of member clubs. The Steelers were valued at $929 million by Forbes Magazine in September 2007. However Rooney's brothers: Art Rooney Jr., Timothy Rooney, Patrick Rooney and John Rooney released a statement confirming that they retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. to put a price tag on the franchise, and analysts in New York placed its value between $800 million and $1.2 billion. Their shares are likely worth more than Dan Rooney and son Art II have offered in the initial buyout could raise even higher and still remain under the NFL's ceiling of $150 million in ownership debt. Each Rooney brother's stake is worth about $160 million, or less than Dan Rooney is believed to be offering. Also the brother who may determine if the majority of the team remains in the Rooney family is Art Rooney Jr., a Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee for his drafting skills who was fired by Dan Rooney in 1987.[9]

The brothers likely would not have retained Goldman, Sachs if they felt they could soon work out a deal with Dan Rooney. The move also reflected on their fears that selling to Dan Rooney, coupled with the ensuing taxes, could leave their children and grandchildren with far less money than their shares are worth.

If any of the brothers were to die in the near future without a change in ownership, their heirs would face estate taxes of up to 45 percent of the shares' value. Dan has been working with Morgan Stanley and PNC Financial Services to attempt to bring in additional investors who might prop up his buyout attempt.[10]

However Duquesne Capital Management chairman Stanley Druckenmiller apparently is interested in acquiring the team, according to the Wall Street Journal story. The Associated Press reported on July 8, 2008 that a deal could be reached within days to sell a majority interest in the Steelers to Druckenmiller, taking control of the franchise away from the Rooney family. However Dan Rooney, stopped short of guaranteeing that he and his son, would be able to stay at the helm of a team. He hinted that "many people," not just Druckenmiller, might be interested in the NFL franchise.[11]

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello stated that the NFL will continue to support the Rooneys in their efforts to retain control of the Steelers. The only thing that is known at this time is that the franchise will not relocate to another city, only that the ownership will either change or be consolidated.

On November 21, 2008, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that,

Tim and Pat Rooney plan to sell each of their 16 percent stake in the Steelers so they can remain involved in racetracks and casinos in Yonkers, N.Y., and West Palm Beach, Fla., family sources told the Post-Gazette. But John and Art Rooney Jr. each plan to keep a little less than half of their 16 percent stake...Dan Rooney and his son, Art, are trying to acquire 30 percent of the team to abide by NFL policy and have compiled a list of investors who, in essence, will become their new partners in the franchise.[12]

Controversies

James Harrison vs. Cedrick Wilson

On March 19, 2007; Rooney released wide receiver Cedrick Wilson from the Steelers, after he arrested for punching his former girlfriend. However earlier that month, on March 8, Rooney failed to offer any type of discipline to linebacker James Harrison for slapping his girlfriend. When asked about the incident involving Wilson, Rooney stated that "the Steelers do not condone violence of any kind, especially against women,". However he was then confronted about this by Ed Bouchette and Michael A. Fuoco of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who asked why Harrison was not punished for committing the same crime.[13]

Rooney said that the cases were different and stated that "I know many are asking the question of [why] we released Wilson and Harrison we kept. The circumstances -- I know of the incidents, they are completely different. In fact, when I say we don't condone these things, we don't, but we do have to look at the circumstances that are involved with other players and things like that, so they're not all the same. What Jimmy Harrison was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it. He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. She said she didn't want to do it."

Rooney later said that Harrison had no intention of harming his girlfriend when he went to her house to pick up his son. "The situation angered him. He didn't go there with intent." Meanwhile Rooney stated that the Wilson case was different. According to Rooney "[Wilson] knew what he was doing. He knew where his [former] girlfriend was and went to the bar looking for her. When he got there he punched her. That's different and I understand he expressed no regret.[14]

Afterwards Rooney was criticized by the Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh as a result of his comments.[15] ESPN's Matt Mosley later wrote that Rooney's attempt to "explain that Harrison's heart was in the right place ... had to be one of the worst Public Relations moments in club history."[16] The Steelers nor Rooney never explained of why they kept Harrison, a starting linebacker and Pro Bowl player, and cut Wilson, a backup wide receiver.[17]

Steelers taxes and taxpayer funding

In August 2004, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Bill Steigerwald reported that Rooney's team received $5 million in state funds for a new, $12 million amphitheater. This was in addition to the $158 million in public subsidies the organization received to build Heinz Field. Steigerwald wrote that: Since the Steelers don't own any taxable property, the Rooneys dodge city and county real estate taxes. Heinz Field, which the Steelers operate and profit from in myriad ways, is owned by taxpayers through the Sports and Exhibition Authority. The team offices, practice field and workout facilities are leased from UPMC's tax-exempt Sports Performance Complex. Steelers players pay payroll and occupation taxes like everyone else. Fans pay the 5 percent city amusement tax on each ticket. But the Steelers - like a few other profit-making corporations - aren't exempt from paying both a city mercantile tax (3 mills on concessions, etc.) and a city business privilege tax (6 mills on gross receipts). Tax officials say these taxes are highly complicated to compute - and the final amounts the Steelers pay are top secret.[18]

Use of the Steelers brand in politics

During the 2008 US Presidential campaign, Rooney publicly presented Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, with his own personalized Pittsburgh Steelers jersey while at a campaign rally. This act infuriated many Steelers fans who flooded the conservative-leaning Pittsburgh Tribune Review editorial board with letters on October 31, 2008. Many of these fans stated that politics has no place in the world of sports. Others stated that Rooney must understand that the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise represents the entire city of Pittsburgh, not just his own personal beliefs. Even though Rooney was a life-long Republican, many in the media have long described him a "Republican In Name Only" (RINO) because in the past he has advocated for tax increases on Pittsburgh residents to pay for Heinz Field, an amphitheatre, and a future "T" subway service. Some residents have even stated that because of these advocated tax increases, the Steelers owner should not be endorsing any candidate.[19] [20] [21] [22][23] [24]

Ambassador to Ireland

On March 17, 2009, President Obama announced he had nominated Rooney to become the next US ambassador to Ireland, citing the owner's longstanding support for Irish-American charitable causes.[1]

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swore him in as the new ambassador to Ireland on July 1, 2009. Ambassador Rooney presented his credentials to Irish President Mary McAleese on July 3, before making his first official speaking engagement at lunch hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland.[25]

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ a b Rhee, Foon (March 17, 2009). "Obama nominates Dan Rooney as Irish ambassador". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2009/03/obama_nominates_2.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  2. ^ Rooney, Dan (April 14, 2008). "Dan Rooney endorses Sen. Barack Obama (open letter)". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_562310.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  3. ^ "About The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA" Retrieved on 6-18-2009.
  4. ^ Bouchette, Ed (August 2, 2008). "Steelers Notebook: Rooney honored for work for peace". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08215/901426-66.stm?cmpid=sports.xml. Retrieved 2008-08-02.  
  5. ^ Rooney wins Horrigan Award
  6. ^ "Sy Snyder's Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-04-21. http://web.archive.org/web/20020421165540/www.politicspa.com/features/power50.htm.  
  7. ^ "Dan Rooney exploring buyout of brothers". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (from AP). July 7, 2008. http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_576402.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  8. ^ Prisuta, Mike (July 8, 2008). "The selling of the Steelers". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_576523.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  9. ^ Robinson, Alan (July 11, 2008). "Rooney brother may decide Steelers ownership fight". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (from AP). http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_577016.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  10. ^ Gorman, Kevin; Mike Prisuta (July 11, 2008). "Estate tax threatens NFL's old guard of owners". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_577048.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  11. ^ Prine, Carl; Mike Dudurich (July 9, 2008). "'Low key' billionaire eyes Steelers". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_576679.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  12. ^ Bouchette, Ed; Gerry Dulac (November 21, 2008). "Two Rooney brothers to sell all shares". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08326/929655-66.stm. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  13. ^ "Rooney's Comments Regarding Domestic Abuse Draw Criticism". Street and Smith's SportBusiness Daily. March 25, 2008. http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/119489. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  14. ^ "UPDATED: Dan Rooney mea culpa". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 20, 2008. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08080/866685-360.stm#ixzz0WVFVxoR1. Retrieved 2009-11-10.  
  15. ^ "Rooney's Comments Regarding Domestic Abuse Draw Criticism". Street and Smith's SportBusiness Daily. March 25, 2008. http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/119489. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  16. ^ "Rooney's Comments Regarding Domestic Abuse Draw Criticism". Street and Smith's SportBusiness Daily. March 25, 2008. http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/119489. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  17. ^ "UPDATED: Dan Rooney mea culpa". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 20, 2008. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08080/866685-360.stm#ixzz0WVFVxoR1. Retrieved 2009-11-10.  
  18. ^ Steigerwald, Bill (August 29, 2004). "Rooney family values". http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_244820.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  19. ^ Burkhart, David F. (October 23, 2008). "Obama & associates II". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Letters to the Editor). http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/s_594663.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  20. ^ Hartzog, Julie (October 30, 2008). "Throwing in the Towel". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Letters to the Editor). http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/s_595818.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  21. ^ Finnecy, Bob (October 31, 2008). "Steeler Nation revolting". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Letters to the Editor). http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/s_596011.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  22. ^ Spencer, Jim (October 31, 2008). "Steeler Nation revolting II". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Letters to the Editor). http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/s_596012.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  23. ^ Duryea, Scott N. (October 31, 2008). "Steeler Nation revolting III". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Letters to the Editor). http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/s_596013.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  24. ^ Nugent, Frank C. (November 14, 2008). "Booing Rooney U.". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Letters to the Editor). http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/s_598345.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.  
  25. ^ . http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/appt/2009appt/july/125524.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-01.  
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Thomas C. Foley
United States Ambassador to Ireland
2009 –
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Sporting positions
Preceded by
position vacant after
death of Art Rooney
in 1988
Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers
2003–present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
Art Rooney
President of the Pittsburgh Steelers
1975–2002
Succeeded by
Art Rooney II







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