Former Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Buddy Parker nor Steelers’ front office executive Art Rooney Jr. were selected as finalists for the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, only one coach/contributor remains on the ballot, head coach Don Coryell who helped create the modern number-based passing system.
Parker and Rooney Jr. were two of twelve semifinalists. In a new expansion, the Hall broke candidates down into two categories. A Senior Committee of former players and a coaches/contributor category. Last week, three players were selected to move on as finalists: Chuck Howley, Ken Riley, and Joe Klecko. Now Coryell will join them as the lone coach/contributor finalist.
Parker served as the Steelers’ head coach from 1957 to 1964. Though known for his hatred of rookies and draft picks, there were years where Pittsburgh didn’t have a draft pick until the 7th or 8th round, he helped lead the team to their first sustained success, posting a winning season in 1958 as the team finished with a 7-4-1 record. Their best mark came in 1962, finishing the year 9-5. Parker helped facilitate the trade for Bobby Layne, the Hall of Fame quarterback who finished up his career in Pittsburgh. Parker is best-known for his success working with Layne in Detroit. There, he won two championships and posted a winning record in all but one year as head coach.
Rooney Jr. was instrumental in the Steelers’ scouting department, working alongside the likes of Bill Nunn, Chick Noll, and others to built the 70s dynasty. He served as the team’s scouting director from 1965 to 1986 and is currently the team’s Vice President.
The closest the Steelers will come to the Hall of Fame from these particular lists will be through Riley, the ball-hawking Bengals’ cornerback. As the story’s been told, it was Riley who intercepted the first pass when Dick LeBeau called his first zone blitz. LeBeau coached Riley’s Bengals from 1980 to 1983. Riley would finish his career with 65 interceptions.
The Hall will have the same senior and coach/contributor classes in 2024 and 2025. Meaning, Parker and Rooney Jr. will hope to be inducted over the next two seasons.