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Thread: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

  1. #1
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    Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    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

  2. #2
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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    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.

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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    Quote Originally Posted by stlrz d
    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.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    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.
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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    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...

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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    Nky - Why is it you think only the Rooneys can be this patient?

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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    Quote Originally Posted by stlrz d
    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 ...

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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler
    Quote Originally Posted by stlrz d
    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.

  9. #9
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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    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.

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    Re: Has 'Chief's' warning been forgotten?

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler
    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.

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