Credits Dan Rooney for 'walking the walk'
Friday, February 02, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Dan and Art Rooney spent time last week denying there was pressure put on them from the league or the NFL Players Association to hire a minority coach for the Steelers.
Yesterday, NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw made it clear that he was delighted the Steelers hired their first black coach in Mike Tomlin.
Upshaw began by noting the historic precedence of having two minority head coaches in the Super Bowl, then turned his attention to Dan Rooney, the team's chairman who arrived in Miami yesterday but did not attend the afternoon NFLPA news conference.
"I want to say to Dan Rooney, he not only walked the walk, he talked the talk," Upshaw said. "It was very important he took that step."
The reference by Upshaw was to the NFL's "Rooney Rule," which requires each team to interview at least one minority coach in their search for a head coach. It was named as such because Dan Rooney pushed for its adoption four years ago.
There were reports that the league office and/or its players association put pressure on the Steelers to hire a minority coach, and Upshaw's comments yesterday did nothing to diminish those reports.
"Not saying other candidates didn't deserve it," Upshaw said, again congratulating Rooney for taking the step he did.
Neither Dan nor Art Rooney could be reached for comment.