The legacy of , Sr., founder and revered owner of the , was honored and remembered Wednesday, Oct. 24 during a special Hometown Hall of Famer™ plaque dedication ceremony presented by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company
at Rooney’s alma mater, Duquesne University. In attendance for the ceremony were members of the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh community as well as Duquesne students, faculty and staff.
On hand to accept the plaque in his grandfather’s memory was II, current president and co-owner of the Steelers. ’s legacy was also recognized and remembered by speakers including Ray Goss, Duquesne University alumnus and play-by-play announcer known as “the voice of Duquesne;” Charles J. Dougherty, president of Duquesne University; Ken Mihalcin, Allstate Insurance Company; and George Veras, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises. Duquesne University, rich in tradition with the Rooney family that spans three generations, will be the first university to serve as the permanent home for a Hometown Hall of Famer™ plaque.
“Having a piece of the Pro Football Hall of Fame come back to Pittsburgh is a special occasion and something my grandfather would have been very proud of,” said Rooney II. “To be able to be in the same shoes he filled a long time ago and be here today to represent him is very special and an honor I cherish.”
Art II, once a ball boy for the Steelers, highlighted his grandfather’s accomplishments and noted it was through hard work and his grandfather’s ability to survive during the earlier and harder years of pro football’s existence that kept the franchise alive prior to its success starting in the 1970s.
Students and guests also had an opportunity to hear how Rooney had considerable influence on Duquesne University.
“This plaque will be a welcomed addition to a campus that already bears Rooney’s name on the university’s football field,” said Dougherty. “Having this plaque on our campus will help us preserve that memory for future generations so that people will see a face, they’ll see a piece of history and they’ll understand the significance of Rooney Field and what did for Duquesne University early in our history.”
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Hometown Hall of Famer™ road sign will be on display in Pittsburgh.
“We’re honored that this is the first college to become an official extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Veras. “This plaque is a piece of pro football history, honoring the community roots and the support the Rooney’s felt when they moved here to Pittsburgh. Rooney’s legacy lives on today with Field and now, with the addition of this plaque, we hope to enhance the Rooney history and commend the Pittsburgh community for the support that they gave in the beginning of his career, especially during the early days of the NFL.”
Rooney, a 1924 graduate of the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business, received an honorary doctor of humanitarian service from Duquesne University in 1975. He served as the honorary chair of Duquesne’s centennial in 1978 and was inducted into the University’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
Rooney founded the team in 1933 and today the Steelers remain the fifth-oldest franchise in the NFL. Originally nicknamed the Pirates, the team changed its name to the Steelers in 1940. nFor nearly 40 years his team struggled on the field, but Rooney never lost hope. Finally, in 1969, the team hit the right combination of coaches and players. Under the leadership of Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Noll, the Steelers became the most dominant team of an entire decade. The Steelers, who were armed with exceptionally talented players, won four Super Bowls over a six-year span during the 1970s. But, spiritually and emotionally, what they accomplished was a win for Rooney, a win for love, warmth and kindness, all rare traits that "The Chief" continually exhibited during his involvement in NFL football for more than half a century until his passing in 1988.
“On behalf of Allstate and all our agents in the Pittsburgh area, I am privileged to help honor the legacy of Pro Football Hall of Fame member and recognize Duquesne University with a hometown plaque and commemorative road sign here today,” said Ken Mihalcin, Allstate Insurance Company.
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