The passing of Dan Rooney left a hole in the Pittsburgh Steelers community that will never be filled, but that doesn’t mean that the show suddenly stops. There is still a franchise to run, and it remains in the hands of the Rooney family through his son, Art Rooney II, who has functioned as the team president since 2003.
Art, 64, did not quite spend his life in the world of football entirely as his father had before him, and many have noted—or tried to note—how that results in their approaches differing, even if the Chairman’s touch is still to be found in the Steelers’ business practices.
Still, Dan Rooney’s passing did have many scrambling for the answers as to what comes next. That is, to where do we turn for Rooney: The Next Generation? Actually, we look no further than Dan Rooney.
Dan Rooney, Jr. is the younger brother of Art II, and the son of Dan Rooney. He is on the Steelers’ staff as the team’s player personnel coordinator. Art Rooney, Jr., Dan’s brother, still serves as a vice president, nominally, and is also a part owner.
But the true next generation of the Rooney family is yet another Dan from yet another Art, in this case Daniel Martin Rooney, Art II’s son. And he does bear out many similarities to his namesake and grandfather. Both, for example, were quarterbacks. He played for Dartmouth, though as a backup.
One knock against him is that he chose Dartmouth over William & Mary, Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s alma mater. Still, that didn’t stop him from hiring the young man to serve as a coaching assistant, which is the role that he currently holds within the organization.
Born on Christmas Day in 1989, the 27-year-old may well be groomed as the heir apparent to his father to take over as president of the organization some day. If that happens sooner than he is ready, then perhaps that role would go to the other Dan on the staff.
While Art II spent a couple of decades in the law world, Dan (called ‘Danny’, apparently) has kept his nose close to the game. Like seemingly all Rooneys, he started as a ball boy, but he followed his graduation from Dartmouth by serving an internship with the NFL.
He also served on the bottom rung of the Steelers’ scouting network in 2014 and 2015—as Kevin Colbert’s son, Dan (of course) currently functions—and joined the coaching staff as an assistant for this past season. What the future holds for him is not set in stone, but I get the sense that he is going to remain in the football world.
One other interesting thing of note is that he was largely responsible for bringing in that tackling robot that the Steelers used last season. That robot was produced by Dartmouth, as you might recall. That is at least some tangible level of influence.
In the wake of his grandfather’s passing, I suspect that we will begin to hear a lot more about Danny Rooney over the course of the next several years as he theoretically rises in prominence within the organization. “The future of the Rooney family is bright”, co-owner Thomas Tull said while speaking of him.
“Danny is driven, competitive and learning the business from the ground up. Rather than using his last name to get a front-office position, Danny interned at the NFL and started on the lowest levels of the scouting department, doing all of the unglamorous work that goes into building a football team”.
“He’s already proven himself”, Tull said, “and I’m looking forward to being his partner for many years to come”.