Football Hall of Fame honors Rooney
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 22:10
The Pro Football Hall of Fame and All State Insurance honored the father of Pittsburgh football, Art Rooney, with a plaque from their “Hometown Hall of Famers” program in Duquesne’s Power Center Wednesday.
In attendance for the ceremony were members of the Rooney family, President Charles J. Dougherty, representatives from both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and All State Insurance as well as Duquesne students and faculty.
Current president and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney II, was on hand to accept the plaque on behalf of his grandfather and expressed gratitude for the opportunity and the University.
“It’s a great day for Duquesne and great day for the Rooney family,” Rooney said.
Rooney highlighted the accomplishments and hard work of his grandfather, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964, while reminding the audience of the difficulties the late Rooney faced in starting a football franchise in Pittsburgh.
“My grandfather used to say that making the payroll on Monday was almost as exciting as winning a game on Sunday,” Rooney said.
Rooney added that his grandfather’s ability to survive during the earlier and harder years of pro football’s existence was vital to the franchise’s survival prior to its success starting in the 1970s.
“If my grandfather was successful at anything, it was survival,” Rooney said in reference to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were founded in 1933. “Just having the team survive through those years was a feat in and of itself.”
Dougherty said that this was a great opportunity to honor Art Rooney, a man who has had considerable influence on Duquesne.
“This is a great day for Duquesne University to acknowledge a real hero from our past and a family that has been so important to us for three generations, the Rooneys,” Dougherty said.
He added that the plaque will be a welcomed addition to a campus that already bears Rooney’s name on the University’s football field.
“Having a plaque on campus will help us preserve that memory for future generations so that people will see a face, they’ll see a history and they’ll understand the significance of Rooney Field and what Art Rooney did for Duquesne University early in our history,” Dougherty said.
According to Brock Richards, program director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the “Hometown Hall of Famers” program presents a great way for inductees to give back to their hometowns.
“It’s our first nationwide program that was developed to give Hall of Famers a chance to recognize their hometown roots,” Richards said.
George Veras, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, spoke during the ceremony and said Rooney was the 42nd member of the Hall of Fame to be honored under this program.
Veras added that Duquesne is the first university to be recognized as an official extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The previous 41 Hall of Famers were all honored under this program at high schools.
“We are honored that this is the first college to become an official extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Veras said. “The choice was made because [Art Rooney] went to Duquesne High School which doesn’t exist anymore and the Rooney family continued its legacy with Rooney Field and so we thought, in talking with the Rooney family, that this was the perfect locale to make this presentation.”
Art Rooney IV, great-grandson of Art Rooney and a senior broadcast journalism major at Duquesne, was also in attendance for the ceremony.
“It’s interesting to think that my great grandfather walked around the same hills, streets and went into some of the same buildings almost 100 years ago,” Rooney IV said. “It’s great to go to the school that meant so much to our family.”