Devil’s Advocate: The Impact Of Dan Rooney’s Loss

Pittsburgh corner Ike Taylor and owner Dan Rooney

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Cynical as it may sound, what are the day-to-day implications of the loss of Dan Rooney to the Steelers’ organizational makeup and success?

With the passing of Chairman Dan Rooney, a man who has meant so much to the Steelers organization for over half a century that it’s not even fair to attempt to quantify, there are many questions that have to be asked, and answers that have to be sought.

The most pragmatic question to address, even if the timing could be seen as cynical, is how his passing reshapes how the Steelers do business on a day-to-day basis. My understanding that his role as Chairman since stepping down as team president and ceding that title to his son in 2003 has at times resulted in him functioning largely as a figurehead, primarily since returning from serving a term as ambassador to Ireland ending in 2012.

That doesn’t mean that he didn’t continue to be involved in the decision-making process, or at least be consulted, but ultimately the power was wielded by those he helped select to replace his responsibilities: his son, president Art Rooney II; his third coaching hire, Mike Tomlin; and Kevin Colbert, the only person the organization has ever formally designated with the title of general manager (also vice president).

Dan Rooney still wielded influence, but the organization does remain in able hands. What cannot be replicated, however, is the man’s presence and his relationship with every single person in the organization from the ‘bottom’ rungs to the top.

The best that any could hope to do is strive to emulate his generosity of heart and spirit and deep-seeded compassion and understanding. That more than anything else has been the building block of his reign, and even last training camp he remained a regular fixture. There is inevitably going to be a void, but the pragmatist knows it can and must be managed. You can bet anything that this season will be dedicated to Daniel M. Rooney, his life, his work, and his legacy.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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