When you think about the NFL, you normally think about the players, the men of brute strength who take the field every Sunday in the fall and winter and battle it out.
But there is way more to the NFL than those who play the game, and as a part of the league’s 100th season A Lifetime of Sundays will air on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. on ESPN and Sunday, Sept 1 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC, a look at the history of the game through the eyes of four iconic females, including Patricia Rooney, wife of late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney.
Rooney is featured along with the Bears Virginia McCaskey, the Lions Martha Firestone Ford, and the Chiefs Norma Hunt, in the documentary that gives you a look at the NFL from four very private women who shared amazing insight and perspective on the game they love so much and have seen grow into the game it is today.
“It was truly amazing to be a part of this,” said Rooney. “It started out as a panel discussion with the four of us women. It was at a league meeting. It was taken so well by everyone that they wanted to turn it into a show. We are so excited to be honoring women in this, our 100th year of the league.
“In the 1950s we were newcomers to the league meetings and decision making. I have more a newcomer perspective in the group. The others have an even better perspective being around longer than me on how this all started. It’s like a continuation of the history of the league."
The documentary follows each of the four women to their hometowns, giving a very personal insight into them that rarely has been seen. Rooney provided them a tour of the North Side, where the family has been a staple of the community for decades.
“They interviewed me at the house for about an hour,” said Rooney of the experience. “Then we went to visit our church, St. Peters, that they know we are close to. I showed them where Mr. (Art) Rooney Sr. always sat in church. Then we went to Legends Restaurant, we had our own table there, then we went over to where the new fountain stands in the park.
“The last stop was the most important, where we visited Gus and Yiayia’s, the ice ball maker in the park. Dan and I knew his parents and now we are close to Gus. It was the highlight of the day. After that we stood on the corner and looked down at the stadium and talked about the fans’ experience.”
The documentary, which is narrated by Academy Award winner Regina King, is something that brought back cherished memories for Rooney about their time in the NFL.
“There are so many great memories,” said Rooney. “Some of them are so meaningful. This is something that has always been in my heart.”
A version of the show premiered at the NFL Owners Meeting in March, but Rooney is looking forward to any changes that were made to the television version.
“I am very excited to see it,” said Rooney. “All of us who have been involved in it can’t wait. I saw a version of it at the league meeting. It was before it was cut up for television. I hope they keep the personal parts. Talking about the early days, how Dan coached St. Peters grade school team, how he did that for 10 years or more. That part was awesome.
“I am really looking forward to everyone getting to see it.”