04 February, 2011

SuperBowl XLV Preview:The Irish link:

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The aim of the game: The Vince Lombarid Trophy
"The idea of the worst team
getting the best player 
(in the draft) is fantastic.
It means no
team dominates indefinitely.
Football is easily the 
United State's
most popular sport."

Steeler's founder: Art Rooney
When authors wrote a play about Art Rooney, they called it simply: "The Chief."  No further elaboration was necessary. In a place over-run with outsized characters throughout the 20th century, only one man ever went by such a large moniker. 
Rooney died of a stroke whilst at work in his office at Three Rivers Stadium shortly before his 88th birthday. Where else would the son of immigrants from Newry, County Down have been at that point of his life, other than diligently tending to the team he'd nursed for over half a century? In a great American sports story, what had begun as the Hope Harveys, a sandlot club north of Pittsburgh city, went semi-professional, and then turned into one of the NFL's most historic clubs.
Dan Rooney:Steeler's Ambassador to Ireland
75 years  after Rooney paid $2,300 to join the then fledging league, the Steelers enter Superbowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers looking to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the seventh time in franchise history. 
Pittsburgh's  Heinz  Field
The family have spread out ownership of the franchise to a point where 30% of the franchise is now under Rooney ownership.
Steelers' Ambassador to Ireland: Dan Rooney, still walks from his house to games at the team's new home, the fantastic Heinz Field. 
"When the city experiences tough times, the (American) Football team has been a real plus. Our father started this football team in 1933 and it's not something that we should just give up on."  
While the Steelers are slight underdogs going into Sunday's game against the Packers in Dallas, many believe that their recent history (this is their third Superbowl appearance in five years), will help them prevail. Their current tally of six Titles makes them, the 'winningest' franchise in the game's modern history. 
Second Superbowl winning African-American Coach Tomlin
Steelers' main man:  Ben Roethlisberger
Dan Rooney was so obsessed with the Steelers' fate that, prior to snagging his dream job as ambassador to the ancestral home (Ireland), it was said that the only time he really left town (Pittsburgh) was to take his annual trip to Ireland. It was US President Barack Obama who rewarded Dan Rooney for campaign work on Obama's behalf by giving Rooney the ambassador post to the Phoenix Park and Rooney's daily input earned the club a reputation for dealing with players fairly - standing by troubled Ben Roethlisberger amid rape allegations and a suspicion of bringing the league into disrepute. Their have seven NFL coach changes in the last few months, but  the Steelers are currently on just their third coach in 40 years - and this stability has proven most productive for the franchise. The current main man is Mike Tomlin and a couple of years back, he became just the second African-American coach to win a Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLI Head Coaches: Smith & Dungy (right)
It was apt that Tomlin delivered the trophy to the Rooneys. In 2003, the NFL took steps to address the paucity of black coaches in a game where two-thirds of the players are that colour. A diversity committee stated that every club had to interview minority candidates for available positions and, just four years later, Tony Dungy and Love Smith made history when the two African-Americans led out the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.  The new regulation was called the "Rooney Rule"  because Dan had been the spearhead of the campaign for greater equality. Whatever happens in Dallas on Sunday evening, the Rooney contribution to the sport is already beyond compare.
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