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JAR
07-13-2008, 08:54 AM
Art Rooney's letter to his sons is proving to be as telling today as it was in the months before his death.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Just as politics makes strange bedfellows, money, particularly lots of it, makes unusual adversaries.

The Rooney brothers, the five sons of The Chief, the great Arthur J. Rooney, are at odds over the ownership of the Steelers -- their business, our passion.

We can only imagine what The Chief would think of this, of his boys fighting over the football team he founded. After all, he had warned them. He had told them -- more than 21 years ago -- it might come to this if they didn't listen to him. But like so many sons, they didn't heed the advice of their father. They knew better.

And so it has come down to this:

On one side is Dan Rooney, the eldest son and team chairman, who has run the organization so well for about 40 years. At his side is his son, Art II, who succeeded his father as team president.

On the other side are the four other Rooney brothers, Art Jr., Tim, John and Pat. Only Art worked in the football end of the family business, and he's been out of it for more than 20 years. Considering their ages, late 60s and older, the four brothers are concerned about their heirs. By most accounts, they want out of the football business and want what they believe is the proper remuneration for their 16 percent shares. That is said to be about $140 million apiece.

It has been written the four brothers are prepared to sell most or all of their holdings in the team, with multibillionaire Stanley Druckenmiller said to be ready to buy. Druckenmiller could control the team if the four brothers sell everything to him.

To avert this, Dan Rooney is reaching out to other billionaires to help him buy out his brothers and keep himself in control of the team.

There will be winners and losers in this, and we're not just talking about the Rooney brothers. We're talking about Steelers fans and the entire region.

It's hard to see Dan Rooney coming out of this a winner, although he never should be underestimated. His brothers are going to sell to someone, probably Druckenmiller, or he's going to bring in a partner. Either way, it will be difficult for him to maintain the control of the team that he has held. Generally speaking, when billionaires plunk down hundreds of millions of dollars, they want to be part of the action.

The days of a Rooney making the major decisions on football operations with the Steelers could well be near an end.

That makes the fans losers.

No disrespect for Stanley Druckenmiller because by all accounts he is a brilliant and generous man who loves the Steelers. He loves them so much he has been known to show up at Heinz Field with his face painted, just like any other crazed fan.

That's the problem. For all his business brilliance, Druckenmiller is a fan. Fans don't make good owners. Fans can't make the necessary ruthless business decisions involving their team. They lead with their heart, not their head.

Case in point: If a fan were running the Steelers, Alan Faneca would still be with the team. A fan wouldn't have the heart to allow the team captain, classy guy and extraordinary leader -- to say nothing of a great player -- to walk away through free agency. And that would have been a bad business decision.

Who knows? With a fan in control, Plaxico Burress might still be with the Steelers.

A fan might have fired Chuck Noll after a 1-13 season in 1969.

Dan Rooney ran the team he loved with his head, not his heart. Maybe he learned from his dad, who allowed his heart to dictate too many decisions, which caused the Steelers to be lovable losers for most of their first 40 years. But that doesn't mean he has always made the right decisions, always been in step with the times.

In a story last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote: "... the Rooneys have been operating the team as a mom-and-pop business for years, and the financial underpinnings of the team are fragile."

The newspaper pointed out the Steelers are in a small market, which once wasn't so important but now is. The days of NFL teams being on a level economic field are over. The Rooneys are stuck in Pittsburgh, with a small population and nowhere near the corporate might other NFL cities provide their teams. The Houston Texans, for example, receive $10 million annually from Reliant Energy for stadium naming rights. The Steelers get $2.9 million annual from Heinz.

Wealth equals might in the NFL and the Steelers -- neither ownership nor the region -- have it like other teams do. The Steelers are at a economic disadvantage. It hasn't caught up to them on the field -- but it might. It has hurt them in other areas. According to the WSJ, the Steelers are in the bottom half of the NFL in terms of profit.

About that advice from the Chief, which he offered 18 months before his death.

In a letter to his five sons, dated March 18, 1987, and which appears on the last page of Art Rooney Jr.'s book, "Ruanaidh [Rooney in Gaelic]," The Chief, in part, wrote:

"Time is running out on me. ... I would like to reach some kind of understanding so there will be no questions or complications regarding my Estate.

" ... I believe if this does not happen, down the road there's going to be nothing but lawsuits. I do not want this to happen. I want you to start working on this immediately and try to come to a fair conclusion."

Art Rooney was a wise man who through grand experiences knew the ways of the world. His sons could profit from his experience now -- especially after they failed to heed it 21 years ago.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08195/896752-66.stm

stlrz d
07-13-2008, 10:46 AM
This article leaves out two things:

1) Drukenmiller has stated he will keep Dan in place to run the team.

and

2) Drukenmiller has money (a lot of it) from outside of football.

Those are both good things.

But one thing it hits right on the head...the Chief was a very, very wise man.

Oviedo
07-13-2008, 11:57 AM
This article leaves out two things:

1) Drukenmiller has stated he will keep Dan in place to run the team.

and

2) Drukenmiller has money (a lot of it) from outside of football.

Those are both good things.

But one thing it hits right on the head...the Chief was a very, very wise man.

I agree. Druckenmiller will unlikely want to "dabble" like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder. If he understands why the Steelers have been successful he isn't going to mess that up. That would be bad business.

buckeyehoppy
07-13-2008, 12:26 PM
There's a saying in business that goes "the manager who manages best is the manager who manages least."

I remember when D!ck and Dave Jacobs bought the Cleveland Indians back in 1987. After going through a disasterous first season, they went out and hired Hank Peters to rebuild the team from the ground up. Peters would be responsible for building an organization which won two American League pennants.

This example shows that the most effective people with money recognize that they need to secure the best people to manage and run the organization.

Stan Druckenmiller will more than likely be the one who takes over financial control of the Steelers. But the smart money says that if he is an effective manager, he will retain Dan and Art II Rooney to manage the franchise and Druckenmiller will manage the business operation.

As I've said before, Dan and Art II need Stan Druckenmiller. But that's no more true than Druckenmiller needs Dan and Art II. If Druckenmiller is ever going to have any real clout in this league, he'll need to follow the Rooney lead...carefully.

Yes, he's a fan of the Steelers. But the landscape changes dramatically when the team becomes your business interest. Perhaps his days of painting his face and sitting amongst the fans will be over with after the deal goes down. But an owner with passion can become an owner who does the his best for the interest of the team and the bottom line.

Stan Druckenmiller will ensure his own successful tenure as long as Dan and Art II Rooney stay in the long term picture.

NKySteeler
07-13-2008, 01:33 PM
I agree with Smiziks' comments, and actually, are shocked that so many think that this sale could be positive. ....

The Rooneys have been more than tolerant of various positions within the organization. Least of which being head coach. ... Many in the media have stated that this is an extreme rarity. Other organizations only dream of the stability that our team has, and idolizes it..... And it has this stability for one reason. Mr. Rooney.... I seriously doubt anyone else, regardless of how much money they have or how great a manager folks think they are, will be this tollerant as to allow things to work out properly. Regardless what is said now, so as to get the team in his hot little hands... So in my opinion, it is a bad thing, not a good one...

stlrz d
07-13-2008, 01:56 PM
Nky - Why is it you think only the Rooneys can be this patient?

NKySteeler
07-13-2008, 01:59 PM
Nky - Why is it you think only the Rooneys can be this patient?

Because I haven't seen anyone else do it in this league ...

stlrz d
07-13-2008, 02:05 PM
Nky - Why is it you think only the Rooneys can be this patient?

Because I haven't seen anyone else do it in this league ...

So you're basically dismissing Drukenmiller before he gets a chance (if he gets a chance) because of what other people have done. Keep in mind that he's a fan of this organization for the same reasons we all are...why would you automatically assume that he'll change the way things are done? He made his fortunes outside of the NFL so he can afford to be a hands off owner. The Steelers machine will keep humming and he'll make plenty of money from them AND his other business interests.

In all honesty, I don't think it's very fair to Drukenmiller that people make assumptions.

If I had my way I would like to see the Steelers continue to be owned only by the Rooney family, but from what I've seen of this guy so far my concerns are at a minimum.

NKySteeler
07-13-2008, 02:14 PM
Sorry, but I just view the type of management we have as an extreme rarity... Sure, he may be a great guy, I don't know and really don't care... The chances, odds, and probabilities are all against him being as tollerant as the current owner. ... And whether he has financial control only or whatnot, if he doesn't like something he'll get it changed. If he wouldn't get his way, there could be possible turmoil. ... I just see possible downsides that aren't worth the risk if at all possible. ... I'll take the security of this proven family owner over the uncertainty of an outsider every time... Just my feeling/opinion.

stlrz d
07-13-2008, 02:21 PM
Sorry, but I just view the type of management we have as an extreme rarity... Sure, he may be a great guy, I don't know and really don't care... The chances, odds, and probabilities are all against him being as tollerant as the current owner. ... And whether he has financial control only or whatnot, if he doesn't like something he'll get it changed. If he wouldn't get his way, there could be possible turmoil. ... I just see possible downsides that aren't worth the risk if at all possible. ... I'll take the security of this proven family owner over the uncertainty of an outsider every time... Just my feeling/opinion.

Fair enough. Of course with new ownership it would be unrealistic to expect things stay *exactly* the same, but for the most part I believe they will...if Drukenmiller buys in.

As for the rest, see if you can recall times in your life that people have made assumptions about you that were unfounded. I've had it done to me and personally I think it sucks. That's why I feel the way I do on the topic. I'm not taking shots or attempting to start something either...just trying to lend some perspective is all my friend.

buckeyehoppy
07-13-2008, 02:25 PM
[quote="stlrz d":1c7anxb0]Nky - Why is it you think only the Rooneys can be this patient?

Because I haven't seen anyone else do it in this league ...

So you're basically dismissing Drukenmiller before he gets a chance (if he gets a chance) because of what other people have done. Keep in mind that he's a fan of this organization for the same reasons we all are...why would you automatically assume that he'll change the way things are done? He made his fortunes outside of the NFL so he can afford to be a hands off owner. The Steelers machine will keep humming and he'll make plenty of money from them AND his other business interests.

In all honesty, I don't think it's very fair to Drukenmiller that people make assumptions.

If I had my way I would like to see the Steelers continue to be owned only by the Rooney family, but from what I've seen of this guy so far my concerns are at a minimum.[/quote:1c7anxb0]

One very key point: toward the end of the article by Smizik, he quoted the Chief and what he foresaw happening with his Steelers if the sons didn't come to some sort of "understanding".

The Chief was clairvoyant. He knew this could happen and now the pigeons are coming home to roost because his sons didn't resolve differences, mend fences and otherwise didn't fix business the way it should have been fixed regarding the family heirloom of the Steelers.

Now Dan Rooney, and Art II, by extension, are behind the eight ball financially and need a rainmaker to save the day. Dan should have diversified his holdings and possibly invited a few into his inner circle that could partner with him when the time came.

Well, the time has come and Rooney, evidently, has not assembled an inner circle and may now be at the mercy of his brothers selection of whomever they choose to sell their interest of the Steelers to.

All in all, not a good situation for Dan Rooney.

Shawn
07-13-2008, 04:48 PM
I have to totally disagree with the sentiment that a fan couldn't be a good owner. I have agreed with nearly every decision the Rooneys have made in the last 5 season.

I would have let Faneca walk.
I would let Marvel walk after this season.
If Bettis hadn't taken a home team discount his azz would have been gone too.
If Ward wants to play games with his next contract...gone.

I love my team more than the individual players. I believe an owner can be a fan and a terrific owner.

RuthlessBurgher
07-13-2008, 05:18 PM
I have to totally disagree with the sentiment that a fan couldn't be a good owner. I have agreed with nearly every decision the Rooneys have made in the last 5 season.

I would have let Faneca walk.
I would let Marvel walk after this season.
If Bettis hadn't taken a home team discount his azz would have been gone too.
If Ward wants to play games with his next contract...gone.

I love my team more than the individual players. I believe an owner can be a fan and a terrific owner.

However, you might take all of the money set aside for next year's rookie pool, and spend it on a crunked-out pimp-cup for yourself instead. :lol:

Shawn
07-13-2008, 07:16 PM
I have to totally disagree with the sentiment that a fan couldn't be a good owner. I have agreed with nearly every decision the Rooneys have made in the last 5 season.

I would have let Faneca walk.
I would let Marvel walk after this season.
If Bettis hadn't taken a home team discount his azz would have been gone too.
If Ward wants to play games with his next contract...gone.

I love my team more than the individual players. I believe an owner can be a fan and a terrific owner.

However, you might take all of the money set aside for next year's rookie pool, and spend it on a crunked-out pimp-cup for yourself instead. :lol:

Wurd.

8)

AngryAsian
07-13-2008, 08:16 PM
Bottom line is that if Druckenmiller is as big of a fan as he claims to be, he should have a great understanding of the tradition and the culture of the team.... with a keen eye on the unique fan base the Steelers have. He can't come in and go all Mark Cuban on the organization. The fan base would freak. The team has always been blue collar through and through. This is reflected in even how the team has been ran by the owners for decades. This is one of the most endearing quality of the team to its fans.... I can see him "tweaking" some things, but rampaging through the process of what this team was built on would be just plain dumb.

JAR
07-13-2008, 08:22 PM
I agree with NKY. The thought of anyone other than the Rooney's owning this team is making me ill. Maybe you have to live in the Burgh (Although I know NKY doesn't) to be sick over this, everyone I know around here is. Hopefully Dan and AR2 can work something out.

Djfan
07-13-2008, 08:33 PM
This issue is hard for me to follow. I just can't see anyone keeping faith in coaches, keeping cheerleaders out, building the reality we know as the Steelers, as can Rooney blood.

I admit that I am doing the "head in the sand and it will disappear" thing. I just don't see any good here, and don't like to face it.

Sorry.

NC Steeler Fan
07-14-2008, 11:58 AM
...I'll take the security of this proven family owner...

Um, doesn't the very situation we are in disprove the guarrantee of security by "family" owners?

NKySteeler
07-14-2008, 12:12 PM
I agree with NKY. The thought of anyone other than the Rooney's owning this team is making me ill. Maybe you have to live in the Burgh (Although I know NKY doesn't) to be sick over this, everyone I know around here is. Hopefully Dan and AR2 can work something out.

Hey, grew-up there and lived there for many, many years before leaving due to work.... :wink:

NKySteeler
07-14-2008, 12:14 PM
...I'll take the security of this proven family owner...

Um, doesn't the very situation we are in disprove the guarrantee of security by "family" owners?

What situation would that be?.... That we are on only our 3rd HC in something like 50 years?.... What other organizatioin is that tollerant and stable nowadays in the NFL?

NC Steeler Fan
07-14-2008, 12:41 PM
...I'll take the security of this proven family owner...

Um, doesn't the very situation we are in disprove the guarrantee of security by "family" owners?

What situation would that be?.... That we are on only our 3rd HC in something like 50 years?.... What other organizatioin is that tollerant and stable nowadays in the NFL?

No, what I'm saying is that we currently ARE family owned and yet "family" isn't a guarrantee of no change.

The "situation" is that part of the family wants to sell.

Ghost
07-14-2008, 01:15 PM
As a life long fan I have to admit this trouble me. The Rooney name has equaled Steelers football for my entire life. The thought of another owner turns my stomach a bit. Reading Dan Rooney’s Book – “My 75 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers & the NFL” you can taste and feel how much this man loves this team. His heart has to be breaking that his family members see the Steelers as nothing more than a business proposition – one their lives would now be better without. From reading the book I’d speculate The Chief never thought the team might be sold away to another owner either.

Maybe some one can answer – if the brothers wanted out – why did they have to go public and essentially say their shares were for the highest bidder? Why not try to work out an amiable plan and keep the Rooney name attached (maybe they tried…). I think fans (certainly this fan) are somewhat shocked by the seemingly callous attitude the other Rooney brothers have for the team. We all bleed B-NG and this team isn’t any more important to them than paycheck or tax write off. We want to believe it’s more than business but it’s not. Apparently not even a tiny bit.

If the team has to be sold I’d sure as hell be happier about it being purchased by a guy from Pittsburgh that’s been a life long fan. I like hearing he paints his face. He understands the passion and the identity this team brings to the city and its fans around the country. He’s not looking to take it to LA or the next city du jour. I think he realizes he’s the hero and could go down as a Pittsburgh legend. What’s better than that for a Steelers’ lifer?