In this Oct. 7, 2012, file photo Dan Rooney watches warm ups before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles in Pittsburgh. Tony Dungy was an up-and-coming NFL assistant in his early 30s when he met with the Green Bay Packers about their opening for a head coach in 1988. For a dozen years, the Rooney Rule has required NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for any vacant coaching or GM post. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

PITTSBURGH (AP)–Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, one of the NFL’s most influential and popular executives, has died. He was 84.

Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said Rooney died Thursday. No further details were immediately available.

The Steelers’ owner Dan Rooney, left, helped Barack Obama during the presidential campaign in Pittsburgh lApril 2008. Credit Jae C. Hong/Associated Press/File)

Rooney took over operation of the team in the 1960s from his father, Art, who founded the franchise. From there, Dan Rooney oversaw NFL championships for a team that had never even played in an NFL title game.

He was a powerful force within the league. He helped develop the Rooney Rule under which NFL teams are required to interview minority candidates for coaching and front-office positions. He was a key figure in labor negotiations and league expansion.

He made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and also served as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009-2012.

 

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