To those who knew Dan Rooney, they would know how honored he would be by the display of respect and affection that the city of Pittsburgh intends to show him by dedicating this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in his name. They would also know that he would not have cared to be the center of attention in that way, but you can’t control how people display their admiration.
It won’t be just the city of Pittsburgh that honors him this St. Patrick’s Day, however. Pittsburgh’s own Duquesne University will be participating in the celebration of his life and legacy. As the Pittsburgh Steelers’ website reported yesterday, Rooney will be honored that Friday (March 16) with “a day-long symposium” fittingly titled Slainte! Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dan Rooney.
The symposium is jointly hosted by the University and The Ireland Funds, which is a philanthropic organization that Rooney himself founded over 40 years ago in the name of promoting “peace, culture, and charity”. Faith, family, football, and Ireland were the passions of his life.
A number of high-profile individuals will be in attendance, chief among them being former Vice President Joe Biden, who is being given special mention here because he is going to be the keynote speaker at the event.
I would greatly prefer if commenters will leave their personal political opinions out of their sentiments regarding this event, as the purpose is to honor Rooney’s legacy, and politics here are only tangential to the point. Rooney was the ambassador to Ireland under President Barack Obama, and he understandably developed a relationship with the two.
Current and former Steelers head coaches, Mike Tomlin and Bill Cowher, will also be participating either as moderators or panelists during the day-long symposium, among other high-profile individuals such as Michael Hayden, formerly the Director of the NSA and CIA. Charlie Batch and Rocky Bleier are among the former players who will be there as well.
“Dan Rooney was an extraordinary member of the Duquesne family”, said Ken Gormley, the president of the University. “Through his personal, business and civic leadership, he inspired me personally and generations of our students and alumni. The symposium will reflect upon Dan’s accomplishments and salute and celebrate his impact on the lives of people in Pittsburgh and throughout the world”.
As the article on the team’s website notes, the symposium is not going to be open to the public, but it will be broadcast online via Duquesne’s website, for those who are interested in watching it.
Rooney passed away at the age of 84 on April 13 last year. He was born on July 20, 1932, the son of Art Rooney, who founded the Steelers in 1933. It was under Dan Rooney’s guidance that the Pittsburgh Steelers found their way beginning in the very late 60s. The 2017 season is the first season of Steelers football that has ever been played without him.