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First Ladies of Football: Patricia Rooney

“[W]e are so grateful that we’ve had so many loyal women fans,” she said. “I’m told we have the best women fan base of any team in the NFL, and we love to see them cheering our team on. They really make a difference. So, my message is: Thank you.”

Pittsburgh Steeler fans by Steelcityhobbies is licensed under CC BY 2.0

First Ladies of Football: Patricia Rooney

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

As we are now firmly into the second half of the NFL season it’s timely that we launch into the second half of this series of First Ladies profiles. Next up is the lovely lady at the head of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Patricia Regan met Dan Rooney, son of Steelers found Art Rooney, while working at the Steelers offices and they were married in 1952. You could say that it was a match made in football heaven.

The Steelers enjoyed little to no success until the late 70’s when the Chuck Noll era was ushered in. Since then they have enjoyed one of the longest tenures of continued success in the league. Since Chuck Noll there have only been 2 head coaches in franchise history. A stat that no other team can compete with, The Steelers also boast one of the largest nationwide fan bases in the NFL. Don’t even get me started on the amount of “Steelers Bars” that exist in NYC. It’s a touchy subject.

Fun Facts

  • The Steelers were established in 1933, making them the oldest franchise in the AFC
  • They were initially named the Pittsburgh Pirates, after the baseball team, a common practice at the time. They officially changed their name to the Steelers prior to the 1940 season.
  • In 1938 they signed eventual Supreme Court Justice Byron White to the team, where he played for one season.
  • Prior to the NFL merger in 1970, they had only appeared in one playoff game. Since then they have a league leading tie for most SuperBowl wins alongside the New England Patriots.
  • They have sold out every single home game since 1972.
  • The infamous “Terrible Towel” actually has charitable ties. Designed by Myron Cope, its rights have since been given to the Allegheny Valley School, which helps children with physical and intellectual disabilities, including his own son. Since 1996, proceeds from the Terrible Towel have helped raise more than $2.5 million for the school.

Ok, Ok. We get it. You guys are winners and good people.

Boss Moves

The Rooneys have long been at the forefront of both civil and equal rights. They can brag about their many firsts on those fronts. One of the last big boss moves that was established by her husband prior to his death was that of the “Rooney Rule”, which requires all NFL front offices to interview at least one minority coach for head coaching vacancies.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t able to find a ton of things specific to her to use for this section like I was in the previous two pieces. Much like her peers and her husband, she has chosen to stay mostly out of the spotlight. It’s not hard to draw the parallels between her and her contemporaries and the ways in which they were raised. Instead I will just include some of her own words that speak to her relationship with the other lady bosses of the league…

“I think all four of us have always understood the long game,” Rooney said, “that we would spend time together in the offseason, but when our teams are playing each other or if we need something to happen for one of our teams to get to the championship, there is no doubt that we are rooting for our team first, while knowing that the friendships we have will always be there.”

Female Presence

If you have seen a a handful of my recent posts you know that I’m big on building the presence of female sports representation, so I feel like Mrs. Rooney and I are kind of on the same page here and I really like it. Women make up over half of the NFL fan base and she is well aware of it…

“[W]e are so grateful that we’ve had so many loyal women fans,” she said. “I’m told we have the best women fan base of any team in the NFL, and we love to see them cheering our team on. They really make a difference. So, my message is: Thank you.”

Thank you for seeing us. We see you right back.

An actor by degree, sports lover by day, and a bartender by night. As a native of suburban Detroit it took moving to NYC for Katie to fully realize her love of all things Michigan and Detroit sports. Feel free to engage her in her love of the coolest city and prettiest state in the country and why she will always root for Ohio State to lose every sporting event ever. No, really I am dead serious about that last statement.

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