Football has lost a pioneer and one of the greatest men to ever contribute to the sport. Dan Rooney, was never an NFL player, but since 1969 he's been the man behind the steel curtain pulling the strings for decades. Rooney put together the Steeler dynasty that won 4 Super Bowl titles in the 70's. He also drafted one of the best classes ever when he selected 4 future hall of famers in 1974. These 4 players were crucial to the Pittsburgh regime, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster were the best draft class ever by a single team and it translated to championships. Rooney may have been amazing at his job, his 4 rings as the everyday executive show that, however his impact on the game from a owners perspective was way more impressive.
What Dan Rooney did to help the league over the last 4 decades is actually quite remarkable. In 1992 he was the one that introduced the idea of a salary cap which forever changed the way team's would be able to sign players. This led to a more even playing field for the smaller market teams and has been proven to work to perfection since being implemented into the league. This also led to the beginning of unrestricted free agency. Thank Dan Rooney for making March and April and exciting time for football fans as hope can be restored to your team with a few signings. Giants last year are the perfect example, went from the 2nd worst defense in the league to a top 5 defense mainly because of the additions made through free agency. Without Rooney bringing the salary cap into play, which opened up unrestricted free agency, none of this would've been possible.
Seems like Rooney's legacy couldn't grow any greater, yet I haven't even mentioned his greatest achievement ever. What could be greater than winning 4 Super Bowls as everyday executive, 6 Super Bowls total as an owner, and shaping the way the league has run for the last 25 years? Making an impact that effected the lives of minorities everywhere when he came up with the Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule forces every organization to interview at least one minority candidate no matter what for head coaching and front office positions. In 2003 this rule came into affect and since then minority coaches have made huge strides in this league taking over some of the most coveted positions in the sport. The likes of Mike Tomlin, Ron Rivera, Jerry Reese, and Vance Joseph just to name a few were all benefactors of the Rooney Rule and that is something that'll live on forever. Rooney made a real impact way beyond just the game on the field, that is what makes him a true legend. No one has shaped, changed, and improved the game of football more than Dan Rooney, and for that I thank him. Thank you for making this great sport what it is, you'll never be forgotten Mr.Rooney.
The love that was shown for this man of social media by current and former players of the Steelers was amazing to see. He truly impacted so many people's lives for the better it's unbelievable how respected he was. Rooney is the gold standard for executives and owners around the league.