Since his unfortunate passing back in April, members all throughout Steelers Nation have been looking for ways to pay homage to the late Dan Rooney in a fashion that would best commemorate his life and his impact on the lives of so many others in many different walks of life.
And that includes his employees at the Pittsburgh Steelers, to whom he gave the best of his life over the course of better than half a century. He helped shape the course and fate of not only his father’s football franchise, but of the league as a whole.
And for wide receiver Antonio Brown, there is no better way to honor his legacy than to restock the trophy case that he was instrumental in plentifying, initially during the 1970s dynasty and then again in the 2000s.
During a recent charity softball game that he hosted, Brown used the opportunity to honor Rooney and to speak about the impact that he had on his life. “He meant everything to me”, he said, “not only as an owner, but as a leader, as a role model, as someone who stood for high character and generosity as a person”.
A member of the team since 2010, Brown said that “it’s difficult being around the practice facility knowing he isn’t there. Not just how passionate he was about the game, but how passionate he was about people and having the right people here and doing the right thing”.
I would say that the Steelers and Rooney have done right by Brown. They signed him to a long-term extension as a third-year player back in 2012, then while waiting for two years for his next extension, the team advanced him future money to compensate him. His new deal was one of the last things the team completed in Rooney’s life.
“He always welcomed me with open arms, always had his door open for me to talk about anything”, Brown recalled.
“I am grateful I got the chance to know him on a personal level. I miss him”. He said that “everything this year should be about Mr. Rooney and what he did”, and that “anything I can do to honor him, I will do. We are starting it off at the softball game”.
But ultimately, he said, “it would mean everything to go all the way in his honor”, meaning the Steelers team that Rooney loved so much. “I think he would like to have some more of those Super Bowl trophies here. And we want it for him”.
The team was able to reach the Super Bowl during Brown’s rookie season, but they fell short in that game. Last year was the closest since then that they have gotten to returning there, reaching the AFC Championship game. It would only be fitting that hey get back over the hump in honor of Dan Rooney’s memory.