The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t won it all since former owner Dan Rooney began to take more of a back seat in the organization, having been appointed as US ambassador to Ireland in 2009. His son, Art Rooney II, had technically stepped in as president in 2002, but his father played a major role until his political appointment in 2009.
Is it mere coincidence that the team has not been as successful since then? Who’s to say for sure? But we’ve heard many people’s opinions. While former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher did not offer one in that regard, he did recall something that the late owner always told him.
“That’s the last words that Mr. Rooney used to always say to me when it came down to it. He goes, ‘Coach, just do the right thing’”, he recalled in speaking with Alabama head coach Nick Saban for The 33rd Team. “And then he would leave and I’m thinking, ‘Okay, what’s the right thing? That didn’t help me much’. But it was just, do the right thing. Like, okay, he just threw it back in my court”.
“But you know what? He was more about the process”, he continued. “He would let you fall, because if you fell, you didn’t do the right thing, it was a lesson learned. And sometimes the best lesson learned is when you fall down, but you learn to get back up”.
We don’t hear nearly as often about the conversations that Art II might have with people, though he is frequently described as possessing many of the same humanitarian qualities as his father. Still, I don’t suspect any player will have the sort of relationship with him that former cornerback Ike Taylor had with his father.
But perhaps Dan Rooney was just a really big fan of Do the Right Thing, the milestone breakthrough film by Spike Lee, starring as Radio Raheem none other than Bill Nunn Jr., who was the son of exactly the person you should be thinking of.
Actually, Bill Nunn III. The great Bill Nunn of Steelers fame was in fact Jr. himself. The true Bill Nunn Sr., the first, was the managing editor of the Pittsburgh Courier before our Nunn began writing for the outlet and set in motion the path to a Hall of Fame career. I digress, but I don’t regret affording myself the opportunity to talk about Bill Nunn, quite simply one of the most important people in Steelers’ history.
In fact, Dan Rooney accepting Nunn’s challenge to hire him probably falls neatly under his own ‘do the right thing’ mantra. How many times did he need to hear or read Nunn telling him that he should have done this, that, and the other thing with his team before he simply hired him to help make those decisions?