|Arthur Joseph Rooney, Sr. (January 27, 1901 - August 25, 1988) was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise in the National Football League.
Born in the mining town and Pittsburgh suburb of Coulterville, Pennsylvania, Rooney was Pittsburgh through and through. He graduated from Duquesne Prep, then went on to Duquesne University before founding the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rooney is a beloved figure in the city of Pittsburgh. His affiliation with the NFL began in 1933 when he purchased a franchise for the city of Pittsburgh and named them the Pirates.
Rooney sent shockwaves through the NFL by signing Byron "Whizzer" White to a then record breaking $15,000 contract in 1938. This move, however, did not bring the Pirates a winning season. The club did not have a season above .500 until 1942, the year after they were renamed the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During World War II, the Steelers had some financial difficulties and were merged with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1943 and the Chicago Cardinals in 1944.
After the War, Rooney became team president. He longed to bring an NFL title to Pittsburgh but was never able to beat the powerhouse teams, like the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers. After forty seasons, it seemed as the Steelers would always be destined for the second division.
Through expert scouting, the Steelers did become a power. In Rooney's 41st season as owner, the club won the Super Bowl. They followed up with Super Bowl victories following the 1975, 1978, and 1979 seasons.
After the 1974 season, Rooney relinquished the day to day operation of the club to his son Dan. He remained as Chairman of the Board of the club until his death in Pittsburgh in 1988.
Art Rooney received many awards during his career. In 1964, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Duquesne University named their football field in his honor in 1993. In 1999, the Sporting News named him one of the 100 most powerful sports figures of the 20th century.
A Statue of his likeness graces the entrance to the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field. He also has a street named in his honor on Pittsburgh's north shore.