When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is no word more synonymous with the franchise than the surname Rooney. The Rooney family founded the organization in 1933 and remains the controlling owners to this day. Their president is the third-generation Art Rooney II, son of Dan Rooney, son of Art Rooney.
Dan Rooney passed away two years ago, however, and since then it has never been publicly addressed what the potential plan of succession would be. While Dan Rooney was the team’s president—at least later on—we knew that his son, Art II, would be the next in line.
While we have no way of knowing for sure, the assumption has been that his son, Daniel Martin Rooney, would be the heir apparent. A Dartmouth quarterback, Daniel actually spent several years on the Steelers’ coaching staff.
I noticed yesterday, however, that he wasn’t on the staff this past season. He was replaced among the coaching assistants by Blaine Stewart and Matt Symmes. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what Daniel Rooney spent the past year doing.
The reason that I bothered to take notice of this is because somebody asked Ed Bouchette about the succession plan during a recent chat that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter held.
“You can never say for sure because of all the new minority owners, but it sure looks like Dan Rooney, Art’s son, would be the one”, Bouchette wrote. Thomas Tull, one of the most influential minority owners, told me he thought Dan would be next”.
This is consistent with what Tull said in 2017 following Dan Rooney’s death. Daniel was on the coaching staff at the time, but Tull said of him that he “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 went on.
Chances are it will still be a while before the question of a successor becomes relevant. While Dan Rooney was the team’s president, Art Rooney II was allowed to explore life outside of the Steelers organization and has brought that perspective to his leadership.
Again, I’m not exactly sure what Daniel is up to lately, but I’m gathering that he is in the process of growing himself in some form or fashion in a way that will be an asset to him when the time comes for him to take a larger role in the organization.