PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Today is a sad day in Pittsburgh as the city mourns the loss of Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney.
The Steelers announced Mr. Rooney’s passing Thursday afternoon. He was 84 years old.
Steelers President Art Rooney II released a statement, acknowledging that it was a “sad day” for the Rooney family.
My father meant so much to all of us, and so much to so many past and present members of the Steelers organization. He gave his heart and soul to the Steelers, the National Football League and the City of Pittsburgh. We will celebrate his life and the many ways he left us in a better place.
Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert:
“Mr. Rooney touched everybody he ever met. Words cannot express the impact he had on me, my family and our organization on a daily basis. The virtues he taught us about faith, family and our great game of football will never be forgotten and always cherished.
As we move forward, it is not only our obligation to carry on these wonderful virtues in our lives, but to share these same virtues with others the way he shared them with us.”
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin:
“The passing of Mr. Rooney is a difficult time, not just for myself, the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and the National Football League. But for everyone in the City of Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation.
In 2007, Mr. Rooney afforded me the opportunity to lead the football team he helped guide throughout his life. For that, I am forever grateful and am honored to have done so.
After every game, win or lose, Mr. Rooney would enter our locker room, look me in my eye and shake my hand along with every player who stepped foot on the field. He embodied professionalism and was a man who created a family-like atmosphere that will continue on.
Football examples only scratch the surface of how he impacted mine and the countless other lives he touched.”
KDKA’s Rich Walsh Reports:
- Photo Gallery: Remembering Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney
Former Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke called into KDKA to express his love and gratitude for the Steelers legend.
“He loved to be around the team, loved to be around the players, he was always coming through the locker room to shake our hands, win or lose he was in the locker room with us,” Hoke said. “He was truly a man who was a great example, taught us about football, but also about life.”
Hoke stressed Rooney’s love of Pittsburgh, as well as the Steelers.
“I think of a story he told me about the NFL wanting to make the Pittsburgh Steelers “America’s Team,” and he said ‘no, we’re Pittsburgh’s team, not America’s team,'” Hoke said. “Pittsburgh was first in his heart, and he loved this city.”
Watch the full interview with Chris Hoke below:
Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher spoke with KDKA about his memories of Mr. Rooney and joining the organization.
“I came here as a very young, brash coach, and when I left I was a better man,” he said. “He never asked about football, he always asked about family, just wanted to get to know you as a person. That’s the thing for me that I will always remember about him, he taught anyone who came into that organization about humility and responsibility. Never forget where you came from, your responsibility to be a professional in the city of Pittsburgh, being a Pittsburgh Steeler was a privilege and giving back to your community was part of that responsibility.”
Cowher said making Rooney proud was the highlight of his career.
“There’s been success, and no prouder moment for me, was that day to be able to hand him that trophy that he won for this town after 26 years. It was the happiest day of my life,” he said.
Watch the full interview with Bill Cowher below:
Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward called in to talk about what Mr. Rooney meant to him.
“He was a great man. We lost a great leader, but I am so thankful he gave me the opportunity to wear the black and gold. He taught me so much, from the art of a handshake – get a nice firm grip, look a man in the eye – to giving back to the community, that’s something he was very big on,” he said.
Ward said that the iconic Steelers leader was there for the team through thick and thin.
“When times were good, and we had some big games, he would be there in the locker room, and times when we lost, he was in the locker room, hugging guys, shaking hands, saying ‘hey let’s move on,'” he said.
Watch the full interview with Hines Ward below:
Defensive end Cam Heyward praised Rooney as being an involved leader who always “treated everybody with respect.”
“I remember him walking into the training room just a couple months ago, just checking to see how my shoulder was doing, stuff like that you really don’t get a chance to appreciate,” he said.
Watch the full interview with Cam Heyward below:
Former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart shared a touching memory of Dan Rooney.
“One day I’m looking down the hallway at this stadium, and he said ‘how you doing kid?” I said ‘I’m doing good Mr. Rooney, how are you?’ And he said ‘you just hang in there, you’ll be on the football field pretty soon,'” he recalled. “Lo and behold, a couple weeks later, Slash was born after playing against Cleveland, running from one side of the field to the other…and I saw Mr. Rooney again and he said ‘what did I tell you? Didn’t I tell you you’d be out there? Keep having fun.”
Kordell said Dan Rooney was “always there” for people who needed to talk.
Watch the full interview with Kordell Stewart below:
Another former Steelers player, Chukky Okobi, also remembered Dan Rooney:
Watch the full interview here:
And, long-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette had many fond memories of the Steelers legend:
Watch the full interview here:
Bouchette joined the “KDKA Morning News” to tell one of his favorite Dan Rooney stories.
Bouchette says Rooney was a pilot who would fly when he got a chance and usually flew to every NFL meeting as well as Steelers training camp practices.
“One time, they were having a practice at night and he flies this plane and the light came on for the alternator and he didn’t think twice about it…So, he left a little early and he is flying home and the wheels wouldn’t go down on the plane and they were going to phone the runway at Allegheny Airport and he said, ‘Just land it in the grass.’ And that’s what he did,” said Bouchette.
Bouchette adds a few years later he flew with Mr. Rooney in the same plane he had landed the grass.
“Fortunately, the wheels came down when we were in it.”
Within minutes of the announcement, condolences starting to pour in all over social media.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 13, 2017
Sad day for anyone who’s ever ran into Mr. Rooney. What a guy! He will truly be missed. He was the Steelers and Pittsburgh. 🙏🏾
— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) April 13, 2017
RIP Dan. My Mentor & friend. Thank you for your Guidance & Wisdom. I came a Young Coach & left a Better Man. Your spirit will live forever.
— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) April 13, 2017
— NFL (@NFL) April 13, 2017
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 13, 2017
Upon finding out Pittsburgh’s patriarch, Dan Rooney, has passed, one NFL exec texted what many thought: “Damn. He was a great human being.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 13, 2017
— Pirates (@Pirates) April 13, 2017
— Mario Lemieux (@MarioLemieuxFdn) April 13, 2017
Mr. Dan Rooney was as close to royalty as this city had.
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) April 13, 2017
#RIP Dan Rooney. One of the NICEST and most charitable people I have ever known.
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) April 13, 2017
Sad, sad day. Dan Rooney has died
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) April 13, 2017
Today we lost a great one! I wouldn’t be a Steeler if it wasn’t for Mr Rooney! We will miss you dearly! Love you DMR! — Ben pic.twitter.com/94jtHKKeFO
— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) April 13, 2017
Pops ❤️you… pic.twitter.com/GgoIfmbxZH
— Ike Taylor (@Ike_SwagginU) April 13, 2017
— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) April 13, 2017
We’ve lost the heart & soul of Steeler Nation. Incredible person humanitarian & true patriot. May his memory be eternal. Love U PapaRooney
— Troy Polamalu (@tpolamalu) April 13, 2017
RIP Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh through and through. You will be missed.🙏🙏🍀❤️#legend #greatman
— Billy Gardell (@BillyGardell) April 13, 2017
Rest In Peace Mr. Rooney pic.twitter.com/Zmzz28jRKa
— Joe Manganiello (@JoeManganiello) April 13, 2017
Antonio Brown penned a touching message alongside a picture of he and Mr. Rooney.