In Memoriam: Dan Rooney

on April 17, 2017

The Jackie Robinson Foundation mourns the loss of former United States Ambassador to Ireland, Pro Football Hall of Fame member, and chairman and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dan Rooney. All of us at the Jackie Robinson Foundation extend our sincere condolences to the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. 

A visionary leader, champion of equal opportunity, and promoter of the same humanitarian ideals embodied in the life of Jackie Robinson, Dan Rooney was honored with great enthusiasm by the Foundation with the Robie Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. 

Born into football royalty, Rooney had succeeded his father, the late Art Rooney, Sr., taking over the day-to-day operations of the Steelers in 1969.  In the following years, he would turn the team into one of the National Football League’s most successful franchises.  A universally admired and respected elder statesman, Rooney worked closely with NFL Commissioners Rozelle, Tagliabue and Goodell to strengthen the league.  In 2002, he was named chairman of the NFL Diversity Committee, which implemented what became known as the “Rooney Rule” to provide greater opportunities for minorities in NFL coaching and management positions.  In another proud moment in 2009, upon the nomination of President Barack Obama, Mr. Rooney became our country’s Ambassador to Ireland.

With the passing of Mr. Rooney, we lost a gentleman, truly interested in improving the lives of others and possessing of the rare courage to stand by his convictions,” said Della Britton Baeza, President & CEO of the Foundation. “Last March when Mr. Rooney came to New York City to accept the Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, it was quite a thrill to publicly recognize Mr. Rooney for his longstanding commitment to social justice. Thanks to our dear friend Thomas Tull, Dan Rooney and Rachel Robinson shared the Awards stage that night in New York City, and we were all moved to have witnessed a treasured, historic moment between two American icons.”

Dan, your life and legacy give great credence to the guiding tenet of our namesake that “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”  May you rest in eternal peace. 


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