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View Full Version : Steelers' 75th anniversary is also Dan Rooney's life



Captcoolhand
04-29-2007, 10:14 AM
The first Pittsburgh Steelers team took the field in the fall of 1933 and, within months, came the end of Prohibition.
That's all I'm sayin'.
You might think the need for Steelers football and the rediscovered need for legal intoxicants were completely unrelated, but I'd suggest, maybe, you didn't see enough of the early Steelers, by which I mean, generally, the first 40 years.
OK, really, that's all I'm sayin'.
More importantly, on July 23 in Latrobe, just days after Dan Rooney's 75th birthday, the 75th edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is to convene in Latrobe, which is only exactly why Rooney felt compelled to start the kickoff of a season-long celebration with this historical footnote:
"I'm the only one who can say I was here at the beginning," he said at a Friday luncheon to announce a myriad of promotions and special events. "I was at the 25th anniversary season and the 50th, and of sound mind. I'm not sure about the sound mind for the 75th."
The Steelers chairman's easy self-effacement never seems to obscure the truth about a franchise that rolls into a new century with momentous success. Similarly, the fact that Dan Rooney approaches his 75th birthday as much as an intellectual as a football man can't begin to obscure the sense that the story of the Steelers is inescapably the story of his life.
There will be plenty of reminders of great moments and great players and great teams between now and the end of Mike Tomlin's first season as head coach but, perhaps, no one will experience the gravity of it like the oldest son of the Steelers' founder, the late Arthur J. Rooney.
The Chief, as his sons came to call him, started taking the boys to training camp when Dan was 8. Dan's football education began that day and continues to this.
"I've learned more from coaches down through the years than anyone," he said. "It's been a great, great time."
It's one thing to say you grew up around the game; it's another to say the game that became the league that evolved into the most successful entity in the history of American sports grew up with you. Anyone who thinks Dan Rooney grew up blissfully idle, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, just by happenstance, among his playthings should get familiar with the far grittier reality, specifically that he did just about every job there was to do in this business.
At 14, he was in training camp in Hershey during Jock Sutherland's coaching tenure, when he was again pressed into service.
"There was this guy, Frank Scott," he remembered over a post-luncheon cookie at a bar inside Heinz Field. "Frank was Jock's administrative guy and worked with him when Jock coached at Pitt and other places. Really a good man, Frank, but he was afraid of Jock. Scared to death of him.
"The first year Jock was coach, he used a blackboard to draw plays right on the practice field. So, one day, Frank comes out and can't find the blackboard. And he's going berserk. It's only a little while before the players are supposed to come out for practice. He says to me, 'Hey kid, can you drive?'
"I said, 'Yeah, but I don't have a license.' It's 1946. I was 14.
"He says, 'That's all right!' And he gives me 20 bucks and his car keys and tells me to drive into town as fast as I can and get a blackboard and some chalk. Well, I'm a little concerned. I don't mind driving out on the road, but I'd never been in traffic. I'm getting pretty scared, but I get into town and I think, wait, I don't know how to park. I find this department store, and I just leave his car in the middle of the street.
"I run into the store and the first person I see who looks like he works there I ask where I'd find a blackboard. He said they're down in the basement. I run down to the basement, buy a blackboard and some chalk, run back out to the car, and drive back to camp. I get back to camp and I think, 'Wait, I still don't know how to park.' But I found a place that was big enough, and I bring Frank the blackboard and the chalk. You never saw someone smile that big. He was happy as a lark. A minute later, the players came out.
"I said, 'Here, it was 13 bucks, I think.' He said, 'Keep it!' "
That's one of Rooney's primary instincts on the team's 75th anniversary, to flip through his memory and the 8 million stories like that one, and better. I asked him if there's anything currently in his workday that makes him feel old.
"Yeah," he says, "the fact that this has been going on for 75 years."
Uh-huh. That and stupid questions.
Good read :clap:

BlitzburghRockCity
04-29-2007, 11:15 AM
It's an honor to be a Steelers fan, even more so this year as we enter into our 75th year of existance. We're a proud franchise with a fanbase that is second to none. Congratulations to The Chief for starting this proud tradition, and to Dan, Art II and the entire Rooney family for keeping it alive and well!

House of Steel
04-29-2007, 11:16 AM
very funny and very nice read, Capt. :bigthumb:

Stlrs4Life
04-29-2007, 11:16 AM
Pretty neat story. It's a blast to sit around and listen to the old timers. You can certainly learn alot from them.

steelersgal86
04-29-2007, 11:18 AM
very nice read...:clap: