it is an understandably somber time during the past week in Pittsburgh following the passing of former Pittsburgh Steelers President, Owner, and Chairman, and US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a draft rapidly approaching, and that means, even while outside there was held an open viewing, it was business as usual inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
With the 2017 NFL Draft just nine days away now, the Steelers are continuing to complete their allowed 30 pre-draft visits, and yesterday they hosted yet another player in defensive tackle Treyvon Webster, although he is technically considered a local prospect and thus does not count against their total.
Perhaps it is a lot to ask emotionally for much of the day-to-day staff within the organization to go about their usual business while attempting to properly grieve for the loss of Dan Rooney while a wake is going on, it is, after all, necessary. Today is the Chairman and Ambassador’s funeral, and while it will be widely attended, ultimately, there will be plenty of business on this mid-April Tuesday that must get done.
A wide range of dignitaries will be in Pittsburgh to pay their last respects to the man who touched so many lives, but perhaps his greatest impact was on the local level—even just in the building. Dan Rooney was a daily fixture at the Steelers’ facilities while he remained in good health, and he was universally described as approachable to anybody from any level of society, with no pretense that he was above a conversation with, for example, the custodian.
I have no doubt that virtually everybody who works for the Steelers organization in a regular capacity has at least some type of story about how Rooney touched their life, even if in some small way simply by asking them how they were doing, something that he was known to do, showing genuine empathy for those around him.
But, as stated, there is business to attend to. And there has been business to attend to. As has been made clear over the course of the past several days, Rooney was evidently in poor health for at least a bit of time now, and perhaps it was known or perceived that his time would soon come. But the work heading toward the 2017 season persisted.
The Steelers and the rest of the league are now in crunch time when it comes to their draft preparations, with a little over a week remaining before the first round of the draft kicks off, so there is precious little time to lose focus at such a critical juncture of the offseason.
It is, after all, what Dan Rooney would have wanted. Outside of his family, there was perhaps nothing that he loved more than his Steelers, and he has been the primary architect of its success over the past 50 years. He no doubt would have wanted to assure that that work continues. And there could be no greater way to honor him than to have a great draft that caps off the season with a historic seventh Lombardi Trophy.