Ambassador Rooney missed 'strange' year

Saturday, February 6, 2010

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Dan Rooney took a break from his ambassador duties to come to the Super Bowl.

He may still be wondering how the Steelers didn't even give themselves a chance to get here as well.

A year after winning an NFL-record sixth Super Bowl, the Steelers slipped to 9-7 and missed the playoffs. A five-game losing streak in the second half of the season did in the team that many figured would at least win a third consecutive AFC North title.

"It was a strange season for us," said Rooney, who is the chairman emeritus of the Steelers. "We're 6-2, and 6-2 is a pretty good record halfway. Maybe that's what happened to us. Maybe they thought, 'We're so good now, just throw the uniform on.' "

Rooney watched the Steelers this season from afar, marking the first time in his life he has been away from the team his father, Art, founded.

He and his wife, Patricia, have been living overseas since July, when Rooney officially became the U.S. ambassador to Ireland. The Rooneys made it back for five games this season, and Dan Rooney said he keeps up with what is going on with the Steelers.

The Steelers, after all, are a family affair: Rooney's son, Art II, is president of the team.

"I talk to Art and people in the organization all the time," Rooney said.

Rooney had strong ties to Ireland before he relocated there for the three-year term he will serve as ambassador. There has been a trade off, he said with a smile, to serving as a liaison between the United State and Ireland.

"I missed the games," Rooney said. "I will definitely say that."