For about 40 years, the Steelers were the worst major professional sports team in North American history.
That was due in no small part to the fact that Art Rooney hired his friends and relatives and was too nice of a guy.
The statue of him that sits outside Heinz Field has nothing to do with winning and everything to do with being a nice guy. I’ve always said that that is what makes his statue the most impressive.
It wasn’t until his son Dan took over that they started to win.
When Chuck Noll retired, the search for his replacement came down to two guys –one from Crafton an one from Baldwin.
When it came time to hire a GM, the job went to a guy from Mt. Lebanon, who was a former training camp ball boy and the grandson of one of Art Rooney’s good friend, David L. Lawrence, former mayor of Pittsburgh and governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Donahoe.
He helped them get to a Super Bowl in three years and oversaw a personnel department that drafted and/or traded for three or four Hall of Fame caliber players who helped the Steelers win another Super Bowl.
When Donahoe was fired, he was replaced by a guy who went to North Catholic High School –Dan Rooney’s alma mater.
The Rooney’s like Pittsburgh guys and they like to hire people they have known.
This is just a theory and it’s based on no inside informaion:
Art Rooney II was not happy with Bruce Arians anymore and was thinking about making a change.
Todd Haley gets fired as head coach in Kansas City and the word gets around the league that he was working under impossible conditions and got the shaft.
Rooney remembers Haley as a kid and he has a friendship with Haley’s father, Dick, who played a major role in the dynasty of the 70s as personnel director.
He decides to give the old ball boy a chance and that’s when he decides to “retire” Bruce Arians, who had been told by the head coach that he would be back next year.
This is the old Rooney cronyism at work. And that’s not a criticism.
Since 1970, cronyism has helped make the Steelers the most successful franchise in the NFL