Longtime Steelers Minority Proprietor John Rooney, Brother Of Dan Rooney, Dies

The Pittsburgh Steelers family lost another member as John Rooney, the brother of Dan Rooney and the son of Art “The Chief” Rooney Sr., died Tuesday night.

The New York Giants and the Mara family, which is closely connected to the Rooney family, announced the death of John Rooney Tuesday night.

John Rooney, one of five children of “The Chief,” previously owned 16% of the team up until 2008 when the Rooneys decided to go public to reorganize the ownership structure of the franchise. John Rooney sold half of his stake, reducing his ownership to 8% alongside his brother, Art Jr., while brothers Timothy and Patrick Rooney sold their entire shares, giving Dan Rooney and his son (Art Rooney II) a 30% control of the franchise.

“My brothers sacrificed themselves doing this,” John Rooney said, according to the Post-Gazette in 2008, via ESPN.com. “They could have gotten more money from another offer.

“My brothers stood up, you know. It’s the best way to keep it going [in the Rooney family]. I hope Dan lives 20 more years to enjoy them.”

In 2015, John then sold all but 1% of his stake in the franchise, according to the Post-Gazette. 

One of two sets of twins in the Rooney family, John married his wife, Joanne, on April 8, 1961. The couple had six children: sons Sean Rooney, Dr. Peter Rooney, Matthew Rooney and the late Timmy (Timothy) Rooney; and daughters Mary Jo Rooney Gormley and Alice Rooney Mahoney.

Prior to his ownership stake in the Steelers, John Rooney attend Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmittsburg, Maryland, where he competed in track and field with his brother, Patrick. The brothers funded a centerpiece of the Forward! campaign at Mount St. Mary’s in the spring of 2019 featuring an athletic performance center with each brother contributing $3 million.

Following his graduation from Mount St. Mary’s in 1960, John Rooney taught middle school English, served as a manager at Steelers training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, handled the family oil, gas and real estate interests and acted as the Chief Financial Officer for the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

The news of John Rooney’s death came on the same day that the late, great Franco Harris was honored in a viewing at Acrisure Stadium one week after his death at the age of 72. Harris died just two days before the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception to beat the then-Oakland Raiders in the AFC playoffs in 1972, giving the Steelers their first playoff victory in franchise history.

On Christmas Eve, the Steelers retired Harris’ #32 jersey, making him just the third member of the Steelers to ever have his jersey retired and first-ever offensive player, joining defensive tackle Joe Greene and defensive lineman Ernie Stautner.

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