Somewhere there is a racehorse. And this racehorse’s great-great-great-great-great granddaddy was also a racehorse. And one fine day back in 1933, that horse won a race. A race bet on by a North Sider by the name of Arthur J. Rooney. And Art Rooney used the money he won that day, about $2,500 in total, to purchase a professional football franchise which would one day be known as the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For 75 years, the Rooney family has owned the Steelers. Sure, some things have changed but the Rooneys have remained the one major constant. Three Rivers Stadium is nothing but a memory. Art Rooney is gone but not forgotten, his eldest son Dan having been in control of the team for several decades now. And a recent appraisal of the Steelers values the team at around $1 billion.
Yes, you read that right. ONE BILLION DOLLARS.
Why was the team even being appraised you may ask? Because there is a very real possibility that sometime in the near future the one constant in Steeler Nation might no longer be constant. Yes, there appears to be a day coming when everybody who bleeds Black and Gold wakes up in a world where the Rooneys no longer own the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If that doesn’t worry you at least a little, it should.
With the passing of their father, controlling interest in the team was left to his five sons, Dan, Art Jr., Timothy, Patrick, and John. Dan was team president while Art Jr. was scouting director from the early 70’s until 1986 when his brother fired him, primarily because he insisted on taking NT Gabe Rivera over a local kid with a cannon arm by the name of Danny Marino. I would’ve fired my own mother over that one. The remaining brothers had other business interests and had no direct involvement with football-related matters.
The Rooney boys are all in their 50’s-70’s so they naturally have begun preparing for the inevitable transfer of power. Dan has already groomed his son, Art III, to take his place as team president. I believe this is Sticking Point #1 in that Art III is generally considered an asshole. When Bill Cowher had his farewell press conference, he spoke glowingly of Dan but had nothing to say about Art III. Rumor has it Little Art led the “Screw him! We don’t have to pay him because anybody can coach our awesome team!” charge which ultimately led to Cowher’s departure and subsequent dental work.
Dan Rooney is a powerful man in the NFL. He chaired the committee which nominated tape-destroying slimeball Roger Goodell for commissioner. He’s a major voice on every labor issue or contract negotiation. And it’s no secret he, and most likely his scheming son, want the team for themselves. Which is why it’s a bit suspicious that the NFL has all of a sudden interjected themselves into the Steeler’s ownership structure, demanding one person own 30% of the team while also suggesting some of the Rooney brothers’ race track business ventures constitute a violation of the league’s no-gambling interests policy.
The four remaining brothers have responded by doing the unthinkable; looking to sell their shares to somebody outside the family. This is where the appraisal comes in as supposedly Dan/AIII made an offer which was a bit low. Maybe they should bring in Sidney Crosby as a partner. Nah, Marian Hossa wouldn’t take a discount to play with him, the Rooneys probably wouldn’t either.
Enter Stanley Druckenmiller, owner of Pittsburgh-based Duquesne Capital Management,and filthy rich bastard. He’s a billionaire which is one requirement for buying something valued at around a billion dollars. He’s also a lifelong Steelers fan. Join the club, pal.
In fact, here is where it gets interesting. If the Rooney boys are serious about opening bidding for their shares up to the general public, there will unlikely be a free-for-all. I can imagine every disgustingly rich bastard from Mark Cuban to Eddie DeBartolo will enter the fray. Owning the Steelers isn’t the same as owning the Pirates or the Penguins. Don’t get me wrong, I love all our teams but the Steelers are a legendary team in the most successful (and popular) sports league. Interest in this would be huge.
And therein lays the worry. With the Rooneys, we know what we get. Sure we complain about their cheapness, we bemoan their lack of action in free-agency, and hate that while they want to win, it’s not Super Bowl-or-failure as it is to many of us. But what if we get a Ford or a Bidwell? Or, horror of horrors, a Danny Schnieder? Would Pittsburgh really want a flamboyant self-promoting clown like Jerry Jones prancing all over the sidelines at Heinz Field? These are the questions we may have to grapple with in the not-so-distant future.
Always remember, better the devil you know.
Tags: 49ers Art III Art Jr Art Rooney Bidwell Bill Bowher Bitter Ex-fan Cowboys Cowher Crosby Dallas Cowboys Dan Marino Dan Rooney Debartolo Detroit Ford Hossa Jerry Jones Jones Marian Hossa Marino Miami Miami Dolphins NFL NHL Ownership Turmoil Penguins Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Steelers Racehorse Red Wings Rivera Rooney Sid The Kid Sidney Crosby Steelers