AUBREY AND DAN ROONEY—A December 2012 photo of Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and New Pittsburgh Courier sports columnist Aubrey Bruce. (Photo courtesy Aubrey Bruce).

There had to be an eerie silence in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton after the crack of dusk on April 13. Oh, and for those of you who are just returning from planet Mars, the reasoning for the deafening silence in the Hall was because Pittsburgh Steelers chairman and NFL icon Daniel Milton Rooney passed away. He was 84 years old. Mr. Rooney was a Pittsburgher through and through, attending high school at North Catholic, then graduating from Duquesne University.

This past Monday, April 17, a public viewing was held for Mr. Rooney at Heinz Field, followed by the funeral mass Tuesday, April 18 at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

The Steelers were purchased by his father Art Rooney Sr. in 1933 and quickly became the laughingstock of professional football as well as the world of sports. It took more than 40 years for the team to evolve into and produce a brand of excellence, creating and maintaining a standard that enabled the franchise to usher in the new millennium as a genuine sports dynasty. In 1969, Dan Rooney began managing the day-to-day operations of the team and selected Steelers Hall-of-Fame head coach Chuck Noll. Dan was appointed team president in 1975 and was officially given full operational control of the franchise. He did not reflect the typical sports owner whose prime motivation was to sell tickets and turn a profit. As his team grew into a sports powerhouse, he also became one of the driving forces that helped change the political, economic and social history of African Americans forever. The crowning example was the Rooney Rule.

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