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Pictured: Robin Beckham and Dan Rooney
It's just not normal to live in Pittsburgh, and not know the name Dan Rooney. As the former chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the son of Steelers' founder, Art Rooney, Dan raised the bar really high when it came to conducting business and building one of the most successful football franchises in the NFL.
When Mr. Rooney died April 13, 2007 it seems the entire city of Pittsburgh came to a screeching halt, it was hard to believe the news breaking all over the city, announcing that he had died. I believe in some small way a big part of the heart and soul of the city of Pittsburgh also died that day. There seemed to me a cloud of sadness in the spring air in Pittsburgh when his death was announced. As the news broke across the nation, people from all walks of life and backgrounds stopped and reflected on Mr. Rooney's great career and legacy. I know I did.
I will treasure the fact that I got a chance to meet and see Mr. Rooney on numerous occasions. I can still remember the very first time ever running into Mr. Rooney, it might have been a little unusual, but heck I wasn't complaining it was Mr. Rooney. I was trying to park my car on Pittsburgh's north side and noticed Mr. Rooney watering his lawn outside his home. While I was carefully trying to maneuver my car into this tight spot close to the curb-- trying not to back into his yard, Mr. Rooney watched closely, smiled and said hello -- and that was the first time I noticed how down to earth he was, it really didn't seem to matter to Mr. Rooney who you were, he seemed to care about all people and was really down to earth.
Working in the news business, I would periodically see Mr. Rooney all over Pittsburgh at various events supporting charitable causes. Even though he seemed to have a quiet spirit his presence was really bigger than life, and he didn't even have to say a word, you knew when Mr. Rooney was present. Indeed I'm sure he could be a quiet storm if he had to, but for me he is and will always be one of those influential leaders who knew how to walk the talk.
Of course most of us here in Pittsburgh love Mr. Rooney because of the legendary Steelers' team he created through the years, Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles (6) and hosted more conference championship games (11) than any other NFL team. Besides being a Steeler crazed fan, I have a deeper appreciation for Mr. Rooney because of his desire to keep the issue of diversity on the table in the NFL.
I created and launched RooneyRule.com in an effort to help keep keep Mr. Rooney's commitment to diversity alive. I believe this mission is very significant and necessary especially where we see blatant discrimination and lack of opportunities available for many who are more than qualified for jobs in the workforce. On the horizon, I believe we will see more companies adopting the Rooney Rule (as they should) in an effort to make sure diverse candidates and women are interviewed for jobs, because it's the right thing to do.
Following Mr. Rooney's lead, I commend the city of Pittsburgh for adopting Rooney Rule for city hiring opportunities, and I especially salute Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and our city officials for implementing this important order --I hope other cities nationwide will follow suit.
In the meantime, RooneyRule.com will highlight news and information about Mr. Rooney as well as offer more information about the various issues relating to diversity in the workplace.
In the spirit of Mr. Rooney we hope future generations will come to appreciate his efforts relating to diversity and the integrity he exhibited on and off the field as he tried diligently to create an even playing field for all. I encourage corporations and organizations to join the Rooney Rule movement by doing what is right!
A Message from RooneyRule.com founder and editor, Robin Beckham
"Join The Rooney Rule Movement"