Steel City Underground

Top 100 Most Influential Steelers

It’s been a journey. We’ve pulled names from the Steelers past, and looked at some of the greatest of today’s Steelers as well. 100 names (plus the honorable mentions!). 100 people who had a tremendous influence on this team, it’s history and it’s legacy.

Now only one remains. The most influential person in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Dan Rooney

Owner
1969– 2002
PS4L

You do not know how much I struggled with putting Dan above Art. The bottom line is that there may not be a single individual more directly responsible for the success of the Steelers than Dan Rooney. He was behind the hiring of Chuck Noll. While he wasn’t appointed team president until 1975, he was basically running the team since 1969. I think more than anyone, Chuck Noll included, Dan Rooney is responsible for creating and maintaining “The Steelers Way”. The basics of this are that the organization has a philosophy of finding high character players, treating them right, and developing from within.

Dan is quoted on his Hall of Fame bio page saying this:

“My job is to do what’s best for the organization and to make that decision regardless of what the consequences are to me personally…I take my position very seriously…what I want is an organization that can be together, one where everybody in the place has the same goal, and that is to win.”

Rarely, much to the chagrin of Steelers Nation, do the Steelers invest heavily in the free agent market. When they do, you’d have to say that it’s because the player they target simply fits the mold of a Steelers player. Ryan Clark, Jerome Bettis (yes I know he was a trade), James Farrior, just to mention a few, are all guys who weren’t homegrown, but who, I think, nobody would argue were Steelers through and through. I think that legacy can be shown to continue even this past season with the signing of Joe Haden.

Instead, the Steelers have always developed from within, and part of the reason that players continue to want to come back when they sometimes choose to leave is because of the Rooneys and the way they choose to relate to their players. That started with Art and continued with Dan. Can the type of relationship between Ike Taylor and Dan Rooney even exist on any other team? I don’t think so. It’s just one of many things that is different about the Steelers.

Dan Rooney even served as Ambassador to Ireland, in large part due to his longstanding support of Irish-American charities. Rooney served as Ambassador for a little over 3 years before returning home to Pittsburgh and the Steelers.

Dan Rooney had an approach, and it was a winning one, and to this day the Steelers still adhere to it. They don’t care about stats as much as some, they certainly don’t care about color, or race or religion. What they care about is if the player “is a Steeler”. Will he fit the “Steelers Way”? Have they been perfect? Of course not, but my goodness, 17 Division Titles, 8 AFC Championships and 6 Super Bowl victories would lead you to believe that they are doing something right.

Art Rooney and Dan Rooney are probably one of the primary reasons there even is a Steelers Nation. An organization reflects the values and morals of the people who run it, and ever since it’s very inception, the Steelers have been run by a member of the Rooney family, from Art to Dan to Art II. I have said this before, and I’ll say it again, but I dread the day a Rooney isn’t running this team. I fear it. I hope it never happens!

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Conclusion

We all know that Dan Rooney passed away April 13, 2017. This season wasn’t supposed to end this way, it was supposed to end with a Lombardi being hoisted in memory of the Ambassador. It didn’t work out that way and that is unfortunate. Dan Rooney’s legacy will continue as his son, Art Rooney II continues the Rooney ownership tree. It would be fitting if perhaps Art II was followed by Dan Rooney, Jr down the road. If either of these men even approaches the legacy of their namesakes, the Steelers will continue to be the franchise we have all grown to love over the years.

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