Smiling Irish Eyes
by Andrew O’Toole
Art Rooney was one of the pioneers of the National Football League, along with Bert Bell, George Halas, Tim Mara, and George Preston Marshall, but his beloved team, first known as the Pirates and then the Steelers would spend years as a league doormat before becoming a powerhouse. Rooney never gave up on his team. Far from being a “loveable loser,” Rooney had a burning desire to win and was a fierce competitor. The ultimate sportsman, Rooney dabbled in nearly every game in his younger days. Football, baseball, and boxing; both as an amateur and a pro Rooney excelled at every sport in which he participated. He made his name, however, not on the playing field, but as the gentlemanly owner of the perennial loser, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A simple man, Rooney was extremely devoted to his family, friends, and faith. He cared as much for the groundskeeper as he did for the star player and the stories of his thoughtfulness and generosity are legend. Son of an Irish immigrant, Art Rooney was a living embodiment of the American Dream. Though raised in a household of modest means, Rooney bequeathed to his sons a multimillion-dollar sports empire.