Dan Rooney: My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL

Rooney.jpgFans of the Pittsburgh Steelers or those interested in the history of the NFL will want to be sure and check out Dan Rooney’s autobiography My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL recently released by Da Cappo.

The publishers description of the book reveals why this is such an interesting book:

For the first time, Dan Rooney, chairman of one of the greatest NFL dynasties ever, the Pittsburgh Steelers–winner of five Super Bowls–tells his compelling life story.

In 2007, the Pittsburgh Steelers will turn seventy-five years old. So will Dan Rooney. In Dan Rooney, the owner talks about growing up on Pittsburgh’s North Side, competing with Johnny Unitas for top high school quarterback honors in western Pennsylvania, learning the ropes of big-time sports from his father and mentor, Art Rooney (“the Chief”), helping to shape the modern NFL into America’s all-consuming passion, and forging the Steelers into a Super Bowl-winning dynasty. He also speaks frankly about winning and losing, and discusses his relationships with family, coaches, players, owners, NFL commissioners, the media, and the fans–“Steeler Nation.”

It’s all here: the difficult contract negotiations, controversial decisions, memorable teams, and many behind-the-scenes stories of the growth of America’s favorite game. A dedicated family man and proud native of Pittsburgh, this chairman of one of the most successful franchises ever reveals the dynamics that have made him such a respected owner in the NFL.

Dan saw the rise of one of the great sports franchises from the ground up. As a result he has a vast knowledge of the history of not only the Steelers but of Pittsburgh, the NFL, and sports in America.

An added bonus is that the author is clearly a man of great character; a man devoted to his family, his faith, his city, and his team. If you want to know why the Steelers are the class of the NFL you need look no farther than the Rooney family.

If there is a drawback to the book it is that it is an autobiography – co-authored by the President and Director of Library & Archives of Pittsburgh’s Smithsonian-affiliated Senator John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. This allows Rooney’s personality to come through but it sometimes lacks the drama that a professional writer might have brought to the project. The story of the Steelers rise from perennial doormat to dynasty is a fascinating and dramatic one. A writer with a little more polish could have turned it into a powerful read.

But even in its more laid back structure it is still and insightful and interesting look at sports and cultural history. As a Steeler fan who has never lived in Pittsburgh, and who came of age during the dynasty, I found it deepened my understanding of the Rooney family, the Steelers organization, and the history of the NFL. As a fan of both football and history I found it compelling reading.

Steeler fans and fans of the NFL will want to have this contribution to history of the sport on their shelf.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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