Art Rooney founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933, and the “Steel City” began its quest to become a football town. Little did we know at that time, the Rooneys would not only transform the city of Pittsburgh, but they would change the way that football organizations were run forever.
Dan Rooney, Art’s son, began working for the Steelers in 1955 after graduating from Duquesne University. Dan’s professionalism, intelligence and ability to lead allowed his father to pass off control to him in the 1960’s. As President of the Steelers, Dan quickly turned the franchise into a perennial playoff contender.
In 1974, he helped assemble one of the best draft classes in NFL history including Hall-of-Famers Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann and Mike Webster. The very next year, Pittsburgh won its first of four Super Bowls in six years (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980). Quarterback Terry Bradshaw and the “Steel Curtain” defense are still widely regarded as one of the best teams in NFL history.
Rooney, who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000, had an impact that stretched far beyond the 110 yards from end zone to end zone. He was a man who cared more about his community than the trophies in his trophy case, and that made him stand out among professional owners in his era. ESPN analyst and former Steelers running back, Merril Hoge talked about his former boss on Mike and Jamele’s The Six this afternoon. He mentioned that in 1989, when the city of Pittsburgh fell under some hardship and many of the steel mills began to close, Dan Rooney asked Hoge and another player to represent the team in an organization that he helped form. The organization is now known as the Highmark Caring Foundation, and it helps provide health insurance to the less fortunate youth of Pittsburgh. That was just one of the many philanthropic ventures that Rooney was a part of in an effort to better the Pittsburgh community off the field.
Arguably, the most important initiative that Rooney helped push forward is the Rooney Rule, an effort to bring equal opportunity to the NFL. This rule was implemented in 2003, while Rooney served as chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee. Under the Rooney Rule, NFL organizations needed to begin interviewing minority candidates for both coaching and front office positions. We saw this monumental initiative take an immediate effect on the league, as Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith became the first African Americans to face off in Super Bowl history in 2007. The Colts won, and Dungy became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl.
Rooney passed of the presidency to his son, Art Rooney II, in 2003 and assumed the role of chairman of the Steelers. Of course, Pittsburgh went on to win two more Super Bowls in 2006 and 2009 to give them six total, which is still the most among NFL franchises.
Pittsburgh’s current head coach, Mike Tomlin, became the second African American coach to win a Super Bowl when the Steelers defeated the Cardinals in an instant classic in 2009.
Rooney was later appointed the United States Ambassador to Ireland in 2009 by President Barack Obama.
Dan Rooney passed away at the age of 84, but his legacy has been cemented in NFL history, in the Pittsburgh community and in the hearts and minds of football fans everywhere.
He was a true champion in every sense of the word.
Rest in Peace.
Tomorrow is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. It’s one of the greatest times of the year to be a sports fan. The Final Four will be played in Phoenix this weekend, the NBA and NHL playoffs are right around the corner, the Masters are next week and the NFL Draft is just a few weeks away. Those are all iconic sporting events, but there is only one America’s pastime. The Chicago Cubs finally broke the longest “curse” in professional sports history in 2016.
So what is in store for 2017?
Baseball is back, so we decided to rank the best of the best entering the 2017 season. Three of my colleagues and I ranked our top MLB players by position. The point system goes as follows:
1st Place = 6 points
2nd Place = 5 points
3rd Place = 4 points
4th place = 3 points
5th Place = 2 points
Honorable Mention = 1 point
* = Unanimous
Starting Pitchers are ranked from 10 to 1 beginning with 11 points for the top position and ending with 2 points for the 10th spot. The total from our four lists were added together to come up with our final preseason rankings.
Top 10 Starting Pitchers
Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (6 points)
Honorable Mention: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (8 points)
No. 10: David Price, Boston Red Sox (9 points)
No. 9: Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants (11 points)
No. 8: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets (19 points)
No. 7: Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs (20 points)
T-No. 5: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (21 points)
T-No. 5: Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs (21 points)
No. 4: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants (29 points)
No. 3: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (34 points)
No. 2: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (35 points)
No. 1: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (44 points)*
Top 5 Catchers
Honorable Mention: Evan Gattis, Houston Astros (2 points)
Honorable Mention: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays (4 points)
No. 5: Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers (7 points)
No. 4: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (8 points)
No. 3: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (16 points)
No. 2: Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers (20 points)
No. 1: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (24 points)*
Top 5 First Basemen
Honorable Mention: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (3 points)
Honorable Mention: Edwin Encarnacion, Cleveland Indians (6 points)
No. 5: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (8 points)
No. 4: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (9 points)
No. 3: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks (14 points)
No. 2: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (20 points)
No. 1: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs (23 points)
Top 5 Second Basemen
Honorable Mention: Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs (4 points)
Honorable Mention: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (5 points)
No. 5: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (8 points)
No. 4: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (10 points)
No. 3: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (12 points)
No. 2: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (20 points)
No. 1: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (24 points)*
Top 5 Shortstops
Honorable Mentions: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox (5 points)
T-No. 5: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants (6 points)
T-No. 5: Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays (6 points)
No. 4: Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs (7 points)
No. 3: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (13 points)
No. 2: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (16 points)
No. 1: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (23 points)
Top 5 Third Basemen
Honorable Mention: Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (3 points)
Honorable Mention: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (4 points)
No. 5: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (5 points)
No. 4: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (12 points)
No. 3: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (17 points)
No. 2: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (20 points)
No. 1: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (22 points)
Top 5 Right Fielders
Honorable Mention: Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates (4 points)
T-No. 5: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (6 points)
T-No. 5: Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants (6 points)
No. 4: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (7 points)
No. 3: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (16 points)
No. 2: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (19 points)
No. 1: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (22 points)
Top 5 Left Fielders
Honorable Mention: Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics (4 points)
Honorable Mention: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (5 points)
T-No. 4: Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs (7 points)
T-No. 4: Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers (7 points)
No. 3: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (16 points)
No. 2: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates (17 points)
No. 1: Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (23 points)
Top 5 Center Fielders
Honorable Mention: George Springer, Houston Astros (4 points)
T-No. 4: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers (5 points)
T-No. 4: Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals (5 points)
T-No. 4: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (5 points)
No. 3: Dexter Fowler, St. Louis Cardinals (9 points)
No. 2: Christian Yelich, Atlanta Braves (19 points)
No. 1: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (24 points)*
Top 5 Designated Hitters
Honorable Mention: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2 points)
Honorable Mention: Kendrys Morales, Kansas City Royals (4 points)
No. 5: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians (5 points)
No. 4: Carlos Beltran, Houston Astros (8 points)
No. 3: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers (9 points)
No. 2: Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (15 points)
No. 1: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (18 points)
Top 5 Closers/Relief Pitchers
Honorable Mention: Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians (1 point)
Honorable Mention: Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs (4 points)
No. 5: Craig Kimbrel, San Diego Padres (5 points)
No. 4: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (10 points)
No. 3: Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees (11 points)
No. 2: Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles (12 points)
No. 1: Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians (18 points)
Paul Schaum Alex Richter Matt Hrncar Ethan Buss
Let’s all be honest, the NFL has had its fair share of problems between player misconduct and well… Mr. Goodell, but we all know that the NBA is quickly becoming the laughing stock of professional sports. With the blatant lack of defensive intensity, the ridiculous amount of flops and the amount of games missed for “rest,” the National Basketball Association’s mockery starts on the court and continues off the court (cough cough Lavar Ball, Charles Barkley, LeBron James).
So let’s talk about the days off. I can look at this in a variety of different ways, but I continue to come to the same conclusion… this generation of NBA players has become weak.
Take it from a civilian perspective, most working class Americans might get 5 days off in a calendar year. That’s 12 months of work. So obviously, you have to take into account that NBA players are doing physical labor so to speak, but they also get days off in between games throughout the season. I’d also like to mention that they get about three months off each offseason. I know that they are human beings and need time to rest and recuperate, but they get their R & R on private islands and fancy resorts.
Now, let’s take a look at it from a basketball perspective. There have been plenty of superstars over the years who have led long careers and still played every night. Combine that with the advancements in physical therapy and sports medicine, and you shouldn’t miss a single game if you are healthy.
LeBron James spoke about how Spurs head coach Gregg Poppovich has been resting players for years and it has paid off with 5 championships. That is very true, but I believe that it is on the player whether they want to play or not. James also said that not every NBA coach has the same kind of stature as Poppovich, which is also true. NBA superstars tower over most coaches in terms of power. None more than LeBron, so it is his choice if he wants to play or not. Just ask James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Looking at it from a numbers perspective, Michael Jordan played 80 or more games in 11 of his 15 seasons. One of those 4 seasons he missed more than 2 games was due to injury, and another was when he returned from his baseball stint late in the 1995 season. Jordan actually played all 82 games nine times including his final season with the Wizards.
On the other hand, LeBron James has never played in all 82 games, and in 14 seasons, he has only reached 80 games twice. For those of you who want to say that James plays more than MJ or it’s because he makes the Finals every year, James averages 38.9 minutes per game for his career. MJ averaged 38.3 mpg. Jordan also played all 82 games in each of the last three championship seasons in Chicago.
Karl Malone played 80 or more games in 17 of his 19 seasons, including all 82 games 10 times. His teammate John Stockton played in all 82 games in an astounding 16 of his 19 seasons. Keep in mind, they also had deep playoff runs.
So I ask you… what is your excuse?
Steph Curry (8 seasons), Dwyane Wade (14 seasons) and Carmelo Anthony (14 seasons) have never played in 82 games in a season. Anthony and Curry have only reached 80 twice each, and Wade has never reached that mark. In fact, Anthony hasn’t even reached 70 games in 8 of his 14 seasons.
Nevertheless, that shouldn’t be the reason why you want to play day in and day out. It should be because 1) you get to play basketball for a living. It’s the thing you grew up dreaming of. It’s the thing you’ve given your life to. And 2) think of the children out there that idolize you. The kids that wear your jersey when they hoop. The poor father that scrapped together the money to buy tickets to a game just so his son could see you play.
What do you say to that family? To that child?
I just believe that the fans deserve to see their favorite players play when they go to the game. Home or away. It may sound selfish to treat the players like an object. Like entertainment. But to be completely honest, they are just that. And they get paid very handsomely to entertain. Some of them make even more money off the court because their fans buy shoes and jerseys and all sorts of other endorsed products. The least these players could do is their job.
Moral of the story, it’s a game. Go play it.
Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.