The Pittsburgh Steelers officially introduced long-time front office executive Omar Khan as their new general manager yesterday, speaking to reporters and answering their questions. Having served for 21 years under multiple titles, the final being vice president of football & business administration, the show is now his to run, even if not wholly on his own.
But the Steelers have long run a collaborative process, rooted in the nature of the family who has owned the team from the beginning, the Rooneys, and Khan has been around long enough to know them very well. In fact, he offered quite a paean to the founding clan and the impact they have had on his life.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ambassador Dan Rooney. Him and I had such a special and unique relationship. I learned so much from him”, he said in his introductory remarks yesterday morning before beginning to address questions.
“The entire Rooney family, especially Art, and Mr. Rooney, they’ve taught me so much, not only about the game of football, and the business of the NFL, but about life and being a person. I am who I am, the person you see here today is who he is, for having known the Rooney family, especially Art and Mr. Rooney”.
‘Mr. Rooney’ would be Dan Rooney, who took over the reins from his father, Art Sr., in the late 60s, effectively, and helped to steer the Steelers’ ship to success. He had a profound influence over the course of not just the franchise but of the league itself for the next half-century or so, even as he gave way to his own son, Art II, to take on an ambassadorship in 2009 to his beloved Ireland.
When he returned from serving his country in that capacity, however, he once again remained a fixed presence within the organization—and in the locker room—really until his passing in 2017. Khan first joined the Steelers in 2001, so he had experienced his presence for some time and absorbed his influence.
Art Rooney II continues the legacy of his father in many ways, and like him, is viewed in league circles as a leader on a number of important issues, and keeps an open door within the building. Everything that goes on within the organization is influenced by the examples set by the Rooney family over the years.
That makes it pretty easy to become a ‘Steelers-type guy’ when you spend so much of your days surrounded by those who define what it is to be a Steeler. Khan is certainly that, and he now finally has the opportunity he has long sought. And he doesn’t even have to pack.