Dan Rooney walked with kings. He had audiences with the Pope. He could go into his cell phone contacts and dial up a President-elect of the United States, and once when his cell phone buzzed on the night of the presidential election he recognized the number immediately as belonging to the future First Lady. He could share a Guinness in an Irish pub with the Secretary of State. Three successive NFL Commissioners sought his counsel, and they sought his counsel daily. When it was time for the Mass to celebrate his 60th wedding anniversary, a Cardinal traveled from Washington, D.C. to officiate. As previously noted, the President of Ireland would call and think nothing of waiting for him to come to the phone.
But Dan Rooney also never stopped being a man of the people, a supporter of his players, an advocate for what was right, a father, a devout Catholic, and above all, a Pittsburgh guy. He was a man who thought nothing of walking to the McDonald’s in his North Side neighborhood with his beloved wife, Patricia, on weekends to grab a quick bite. He ate his lunch each working day in the same cafeteria and used the same plastic utensils as everyone else in his employ, and his only demands were that not all of the soup selections be creamed soups and that there was a fish entrée on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent. Dan Rooney walked the short distance from his home to Steelers games, and he always made time for fans who approached him to shake his hand and talk sports.