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Old 07-27-2008, 08:03 AM   #1
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Default Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families
Sunday, July 27, 2008
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The saddest part of the potential sale of the Steelers isn't that it could take control of the team out of Rooney hands for the first time in more than 75 years.

The saddest part is that the four younger Rooney brothers -- four honest, decent men -- are being vilified for being soulless, greedy money-grabbers because they are considering selling their shares of the franchise to outside interests instead of to their older brother and team chairman, Dan, because they believe it's the right thing to do for their children and grandchildren.

That is sad beyond words.

"I wonder what [others] would do if they had large families and this was happening to them," Tim Rooney wrote in an e-mail interview last week. "We love our brother and his family, but we can't ignore our own."

Can you blame them?

That's right, I forgot, many of you are blaming them.

You're ridiculous.

You would look out for your own, too.

I almost feel sorry for the Rooney brothers because they clearly don't want to sell. They are considering doing so only because the NFL says they can't continue to own the team and their gambling interests at the family race tracks and that one controlling partner must own at least 30 percent of the team's stock. Although Dan Rooney has run the franchise since the death of his father, team patriarch Art Rooney Sr., in 1988, he and his brothers each own 16 percent, the other 20 percent owned by the family of the late John McGinley Sr.

There also is time pressure on a potential sale because of concerns by at least some of the brothers that, if Barack Obama becomes president in November, he will make changes to the tax code that would adversely impact the brothers' children's inheritance.

"The perfect storm," one of the brothers, Art Jr., called it.

Except that things are not so perfect.

"At one of our meetings, Dan asked me what I was mad at," Rooney Jr. said. "I told him I was mad at the situation. I hate it."

Anyone who knows Rooney Jr. knows why. Football and the Steelers have been the biggest parts of his life, family aside. He played a big part in the Steelers' Super Bowl success in the 1970s as the team's personnel director before he was fired by his brother, Dan, in 1986. His South Hills office, where he oversees the family's real-estate interests, is a shrine to the Steelers and, more so, to his father. He's proud that his new book -- "Ruanaidh, The Story Of Art Rooney And His Clan," which is a terrific read -- has been described as "a love letter from a son to his father."

"My dad died going on 20 years ago, and there's not a day that I don't still think about him," Rooney Jr. said. " 'What would he think? Am I doing the right thing?'

"But this sale thing? There's unbelievable pressure with this."

Tim Rooney wrote it's just as hard on him and his family.

Presumably, it's also hard on the other brothers, Pat and John, who declined a request to be interviewed.

Certainly, it's hard on Dan Rooney, who turned 76 a week ago and is fighting to keep control of the franchise. As the oldest of the five Rooney boys, he was designated by Rooney Sr. to take over the team and has been, arguably, the best owner in sports for nearly two decades. Now, he has designated his oldest son, Art II, to be the heir apparent, made him team president and given him much control of the organization.

The problem is that Dan Rooney doesn't have the money to buy out his brothers. The Steelers have been valued at somewhere between $800 million and $1.2 billion. Dan Rooney's initial bid to the brothers was for far less than market value. It's pretty safe to assume the brothers weren't thrilled about being lowballed.

"He said he wanted the team for his son," Rooney Jr. said. "We understand that, and that's all well and good. We all love Artie. But what about our sons?"

It's still possible Dan Rooney could line up investors and buy his brothers' stock. That would greatly ease the fears of Steelers fans, who are afraid of change and want to see him remain in charge.

"Sure, that could happen," Rooney Jr. said. "But I'll say this -- Dan can bring in three or four billionaires, but he will never have better cooperation from his partners than he had with his brothers and the McGinleys. Who's to say the new guys aren't going to want to be involved? We never cared about that. We gave Dan everything he wanted. Even after my problems with him, I never had any worries about him running the team. He's a Hall of Famer, and he deserves to be a Hall of Famer."

There's also that possibility that the Steelers could be sold to an outside party. "There's a real shot of that," Rooney Jr. said. New York hedge fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller -- chairman of Pittsburgh's Duquesne Capital Management -- appears to be the most likely buyer at this point.

Tim Rooney is preparing for a sad ending, no matter how a sale goes down.

"I have no concern that the Steelers will suffer as a franchise if sold," he wrote in his e-mail. "I have concerns that the Rooney family will suffer."

Asked to elaborate, Tim Rooney wrote, "The reason I said the Rooneys would suffer from the sale more than the city or the team is because of our emotional involvement. There has not been a second in my life [or] in my two younger brothers' [lives] that we have not owned or have been the sons of the owner of the team. If Steelers fans think they are big fans, what do they think it would be like to be the owners? We will miss our involvement greatly and so will our children and grandchildren."

Does that sound like a villain to you?

The younger Rooney brothers aren't villains.

They're no different than Dan Rooney, really.

They're just trying to do what's right for their families.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

Cook is dead wrong (again) - I don't blame the Rooneys for this, I blame that schmuck Goodell. The status quo was fine for decades, and then all of a sudden it wasn't.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

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Cook is dead wrong (again) - I don't blame the Rooneys for this, I blame that schmuck Goodell. The status quo was fine for decades, and then all of a sudden it wasn't.
Obama on the horizen doesn't help. I don't blame the family either. The whole thing just plain sucks.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

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Obama on the horizen doesn't help. I don't blame the family either. The whole thing just plain sucks.
It is hardly Obama's fault that the Rooneys apparently are facing a much greater tax hit under current tax laws because they did not incorporate the franchise as a subchapter S corporation and that brother Dan pissed off the other brothers by submitting what even Cook in his sycophantic piece describes as a lowball offer.

Bottom line is this franchise was going to require restructuring of ownership as the brothers faced mortality; Dan wanting AJR II to take over the team is a noble goal, but if he cannot afford to pay what it takes to reach that goal then life moves on.

If Dan was in his mid-50s and was going to be running the team for the foreseeable future a compelling argument could be made that it is unquestionably in the long term interests of the franchise to keep family control; continuing to have an undercapitalized franchise that will load up on debt in order to turn the team over to AJRII may be in AJRII's interest but is not clearly in the best long term interest of the team
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

I just don't understand why the hell it matters to the nfl what the family owns outside of football. Actually it's none of thier business. They make it seem like the Rooney's are some low llife numbers runners or somethin. So I blame all this on goodell and the nfl, and if a great city, franchise and family suffer because of this....it's on your shoulders goodell and you really don't want the city of Pittsburgh and all The Steelers and Ronney Family fans around the world pissed off at you!!! So I say to goodell......YOU FIX THIS AND YOU PUT UP THE MONEY!
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Old 07-27-2008, 10:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

I blame Goodell the most. "Cleaning up the league" is fine, getting rid of the law breaking scumbags cool.

However, the Rooneys aren't running an illegal gambling ring. Gambling is the root of the Steelers since Art Sr. bought the team with winning from a winning bet on a horse race. What the Rooneys are doing to completly legal, and the NFL needs to butt out, IMHO.
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Old 07-27-2008, 03:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

I hold no animosity towards any of the Rooneys here. As the article so correctly states - they are doing what they collectively feel is best for their children and grandchildren. As much as it would break my heart to sell my interest in a team that I love and have loved all of my life, I would do the same if in that situation.

With regard to Goodell - worry more about those organizations who have made a mockery out of the NFL (with your help) and have ruined the good name it once had instead of nitpicking at an honorable organization who has played by the rules from its inception.
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Old 07-27-2008, 03:55 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

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I just don't understand why the hell it matters to the nfl what the family owns outside of football. Actually it's none of thier business. They make it seem like the Rooney's are some low llife numbers runners or somethin. So I blame all this on goodell and the nfl, and if a great city, franchise and family suffer because of this....it's on your shoulders goodell and you really don't want the city of Pittsburgh and all The Steelers and Ronney Family fans around the world pissed off at you!!! So I say to goodell......YOU FIX THIS AND YOU PUT UP THE MONEY!
Most of the billionaires in the world had families who started off as gamblers and bootleggers during prohibition and such. Look at the Kennedys. They keep voting that killer back into office year after year after year in Massachusetts. I love the Rooneys and think Goodell is a schmuck who is controlled by the Joneses and Krafts of the world. Probably gets kickbacks from them to make things work for their teams' favors. You can bet they have things in their business dealings that are far more insidious than what the Rooneys do. I wouldn't be surprised if Jones and Kraft could be charged with tax evasion if it was really looked into. At the very least they have to be scamming someone down the line to get control of the kind of money they have. Greed is a sad and sorry thing my friends. I am happy to have enough money to get by, buy my beer, and watch the Steelers play on Sunday. The Rooneys should get a fair deal for their sons, but whatever happened to work ethic and making people actually earn their way on their own. I never got anything from my parents and family and do not expect anything.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

What is crazy about the gambling stuff is that the NFL is all about gambling. They post the injury reports for gambling information. Lines are posted for all games and are a big interest in all games. Heck, even fantasy football is a form of gambling.
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:25 AM   #10
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Default Re: Rooneys trying to do what's right for their families

I don't know...

I don't think the rest of the Rooney's are as innocent as they claim either. If they knew, and I had to beleive they did, that introducing slots to the racetracks would bring problems... then why do it?

If they care that much about being an NFL owner.... take out the slots. If not, then make the choice to keep them in but don't complain about not having the Steelers in your life.
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