Dan Rooney: Football's Greatest Ambassador Represents More Than Football

Jonathan CyprowskiCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney has made many trips to the land of his family heritage, but this trip to Ireland was different.

This time it was official. Just 24 hours after being sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rooney made his first official visit as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

By presenting his credentials in a meeting with Irish President Mary McAleese on Friday, Rooney is now officially recognized as the ambassador to Ireland.

He later attended a luncheon at the American Chamber of Commerce in Dublin as his first official act.

President Obama recently named Rooney ambassador to Ireland after the owner of the NFL’s most successful franchise campaigned for him in Pennsylvania during the Presidential elections. 

Known as the NFL's greatest ambassador, Rooney has shaped the league on a number of fronts since taking over the Steelers after his father’s death. His namesake rule (the Rooney rule) requires teams to interview at least one minority for open head coaching and now senior football operations positions. His advocacy has changed the face of professional football, and his team has lead the way on the field as well, winning more championships than any other franchise.

Rooney has been known for his philanthropic work in Ireland for years.

He is the co-founder of The Ireland Funds, an Ireland-related fund-raising organization dedicated to raising funds for the support of education, community development, Irish arts, culture, peace, and reconciliation within the country of Ireland.

Now the NFL's greatest ambassador represents much more than the city of Pittsburgh or the NFL. He represents the United States of America in his continued mission to better the nation of his heritage and the world around him.