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Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, lifelong Catholic, dies at 84


  • Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney celebrates in 2009 after defeating the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL's AFC Championship football game in Pittsburgh. Rooney, a lifelong Catholic, died April 13 in Pittsburgh at age 84. He helped shape the modern National Football League. (CNS photo/Matt Sullivan, Reuters)
  • Dan Rooney, then vice president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, smiles as quarterback Terry Bradshaw holds up the pen he just used to sign his first contract with the Steelers in 1970. Rooney, a lifelong Catholic, died April 13 in Pittsburgh at age 84. The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers chairman helped shape the modern National Football League. (CNS photo/Jerry Siskind, Reuters)
  • Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, center, Arthur J. Rooney II, president of the Steelers, and Benedictine Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, chancellor of St. Vincent College, pose for a 2013 photo at the NFL team's football training camp on the college campus in Latrobe, Pa. Rooney, a lifelong Catholic, died April 13 in Pittsburgh at age 84. He helped shape the modern National Football League. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is seen in a 2013 photo at the NFL team's football training camp on the college campus in Latrobe, Pa. Rooney, a lifelong Catholic, died April 13 in Pittsburgh at age 84. He helped shape the modern National Football League. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

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PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- Dan Rooney, a beloved Pittsburgh icon as longtime chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, died April 13 at age 84 after a brief illness.

He was remembered by sports figures and church leaders alike for his humility and leadership.

In his nearly eight decades with the Steelers, the team won six Super Bowl titles. Rooney also served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2012.

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik, who knew Rooney for 30 years and spent time with him before he died, said the Catholic football team executive "had business smarts, but more importantly, was very much quintessentially a Pittsburgher and was very humble about everything the Steelers were able to do."

Steelers players, reacting on social media to Rooney's death, similarly mentioned Rooney's humility.

The bishop, who spoke to the local CBS affiliate, KDKA-TV, April 13, said Rooney modeled his father, Art Rooney, founding owner of the Steelers.

"There's no question about it, Dan was really a beautiful reflection of his dad," he said.

The father and son were both inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- Art Rooney in 1964 and Dan Rooney in 2000. The third-generation Rooney, Art Rooney II, one of nine children of Dan and Patricia Rooney, has been president of the Steelers since 2003.

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