Everybody who becomes a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization becomes a member of the extended Rooney family. General manager and vice president Kevin Colbert has now been a part of that family for about 17 years, and head coach Mike Tomlin has also held that honor for over a decade.
That is, in fact, what makes the family such a rare breed in the highly competitive, and highly corporate, world of professional football. The Rooneys, particularly Dan Rooney, has always understood the human aspect of the game and the variables involved in any win or loss, or winning and losing season, and doesn’t overreact. That is why they have had such great stability for very nearly 50 years now.
Needless to say, the passing of the Chairman struck a mighty blow to all in the organization, especially those who spent so much time with him and for so long, for over a decade, as Tomlin and especially Colbert have.
To have had the opportunity to work so closely with Dan Rooney over the years, it would have been inevitable for his nature to rub off on those that he worked with, passing on the traits that have come to define the way that the Steelers run business, and Colbert and Tomlin understand that it will now be up to them to keep the proverbial standard.
“Mr. Rooney touched everybody he ever met”, Colbert said in a statment. “Words cannot express the impact he had on me, my family and our organization on a daily basis. The virtues he taught us about faith, family and our great game of football will never be forgotten and always cherished”.
He continued, saying that “as we move forward, it is not only our obligation to carry on these wonderful virtues in our lives, but to share these same virtues with others the way he shared them with us”. And that includes in dealing with players, coaches, owners, and league executives.
In his own statement, Tomlin also paid his respects to his boss and friend. “After every game, win or lose, Mr. Rooney would enter our locker room, look me in my eye and shake my hand along with every player who stepped foot on the field”, he said. “He embodied professionalism and was a man who created a family-like atmosphere that will continue on”.
A family-like atmosphere that will continue on, he said. An integral part of Dan Rooney’s legacy, and one that he helped assure during the interviewing process when he hired Tomlin in 2007. The Rooneys measured up the type of man that he was and found him to be in line with their principles.
“Football examples only scratch the surface of how he impacted mine and the countless other lives he touched”, Tomlin concluded. It will now be up to those whose lives he touched to continue to run this franchise as he did for so many years and to lean upon the wisdom and knowledge that he passed down.