Every time you talk to a former Steelers player, and what they loved about their time with the team, they talk about the Rooney family. Whether it was Art Rooney Sr., Dan Rooney, or Art Rooney II, there is a special bond between the Rooney family and players that will last forever.
That bond is so special, that the team's practice facility was re-named the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex this week, a tribute to Dan Rooney.
Recently, several Steelers Hall of Famers shared what makes Steelers' chairman Dan Rooney special to them. * *Hall of Fame defensive tackle Joe Greene:
"Mr. Rooney is a special, special person. All of my career he has embraced me in many, many ways. Embraced me without putting his arms around me. Inviting me to so many Steelers functions, coming to my son's wedding. Inviting me to Super Bowls. Having talks with me that were very influential in my life. Just the way he would look at me and say … Joe.
"I remember, this was some time ago when I thought I was the 'be all'. Something had gone to my head. I went in and asked Mr. Rooney for a raise. He said you still have a contract. I said I play defense and Terry (Bradshaw) plays offense. It wouldn't be a far reach for me to accidentally hit him. He said Joe we don't play that way. That was the end of it. That was it.
"Our relationship is really special. When I retired I think Dan may have been the first person I spoke to. I went into his office over at Three Rivers and I said Mr. Rooney this is going to be my last game. I didn't say anything prior to the season that it was going to be my last one. He said Joe, do you remember back in the early days, I don't think he called it a year but the year was 1970, when you threw that ball into the stands in Philadelphia. I said, oh my. It crossed my mind that nobody said anything to me at the time and that after all these years he was going to fine me. He couldn't possibly. Then he said, you know Joe, when you threw that ball in the stands, I felt that same way. That is the way our relationship has been, very, very special."
Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann:
"The Rooney family is a terrific story, certainly starting out with Art Rooney Sr. and what he brought to Pittsburgh. But it's a story that continues with Dan with what he was able to contribute as President and Chairman of the Board for the Steelers and what the family continues to contribute through Dan's son, Art II.
"Dan has done a tremendous job. Then being the Ambassador to Ireland, I am sure for Dan was like a few candles on the cake at the end of the day to be able to go back to Ireland as the U.S. Ambassador. His story is tremendous, his contribution to the city is tremendous, and his contribution to the National Football League is tremendous.
"What he did in terms of the Rooney Rule to make sure there is more diversity across the board, not just on the field in terms of players, but in coaching, administration. Dan's fingerprints are all over that. The league owes him a great deal of debt for that."
Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount:
"I remember coming in in 1970 and seeing him take over this organization, and from the time when I came they had won one game in 1969. To be where they are now I think it speaks volumes of Dan Rooney's leadership. He has done a tremendous job. He is a great person. I am so happy for this organization, and the Rooney family, and Steelers Nation to have someone of Dan Rooney's character, qualities and leadership abilities.
"What he has really brought not only to the Steelers organization, the city, the community. And I never thought I would say Ambassador Dan Rooney, but the leadership he has brought to this nation, so we are very fortunate to have someone like that in our presence."