I grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and it was all because my father bought me a Franco Harris No. 32 jersey and one of those semi rugged helmets with a hard plastic face-mask. I was born in the early 70's, so I was able to see the 70's Steelers teams and their rugged play.
I argued with my neighbor Kenny, a cowboys fan as well as a Golden Richards fan....wow!! I just loved the way the Steelers punished teams on the field, but off the field they were different. I met some of these guys when I traveled to Pittsburgh in 78. I was amazed at how nice Jack Lambert was! I thought he was going to eat me up and spit me out, but he was the nicest guy.
Later on, about 1998, I met Franco Harris at a food convention in NYC. He and his brother Luigi opened a business called "Super Bakery." They supplied food, mainly to school food service companies, for their school lunch programs.
The one thing I remembered from meeting Franco was his total respect for the Rooney's. He could not stop talking about Art and Dan Rooney. He loathed their business savvy and how they would drop anything important in a minute to help out anyone.
It is with this story that I will say that the Rooney's have made football a better sport. The "Rooney Rule" should have been instituted years ago! The fact that the man who wrote the rule and then goes out and hires Mike Tomlin, trust me Tomlin was not hired because he is black or for the fact that Dan Rooney had to hire a black coach! Tomlin was the perfect fit for a team that needed a young and even tempered coach.
The Steelers needed a coach who could make people forget Cowher and boy did Tomlin do that! Sure he came on board to a loaded team that has one of the best pro personnel directors in the game, Kevin Colbert, but he had to win over a team who played for the same coach for many years.
He made some changes, pissed off some veterans, but he did it like man. He did it like Tony Dungy, a former Steelers coach. Dungy pushed for a Tomlin interview and according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Rooney's were wowed. I wanted either Whisenhunt or Grimm to be the head coach, but the further I looked into Tomlin's pedigree I saw a Tony Dungy clone!
Now that Michael Vick has sought the help of Tony Dungy and I believe Dungy is an adviser for Vick, awesomely smart move Mr. Vick, there is talk of a possible Vick to Steelers deal in the works! How do I feel....sorry PETA lovers, but I think it would be AWESOME!
Vick would make the Steelers an even more dangerous team. He won't push Big Ben out, but the beatings Ben has taken over the last three years is going to catch up to him soon. If and when Vick is eligible for reinstatement, there is no better team/owner to help this kid than the Rooney's, the Pittsburgh fans, and Mike Tomlin.
Vick has paid his dues. Jail can make people humble and Vick knows his mistake and the fact that he is going to get one chance to survive. All he has to do is look back at PacMan Jones, who in my opinion cannot get the bad boy attitude out of himself. He can have Jesus Christ as his mentor and Pacman will still mess up!
Vick in a black and gold jersey will make me happy, but I believe it will allow Michael Vick to get back to earth. He would be playing for a coach who won't give him special treatment. He will be in a locker room with champions. Playing for the Rooney's is like playing for your grandfather...you do not want to let them down.
Is it a pipe dream.....maybe, but to see Michael Vick play in Pittsburgh would put a bigger smile on my face. The difference between Jerry Jones and Dan Rooney is simple—Rooney would sit down at a Denny's and eat with you and talk about how to make your life better—Jerry Jones would sit down and ask, "How are you going to make me look better if I give you a chance!"
(P.S.) I did this article on the fly. Edits and feedback are more than welcomed. I appreciate comments, but please give comments with substance. Don't just lambaste me because of my feelings. I hope you all enjoy the article. Writing helped me beat cancer and your comments and edits made me stronger and more passionate to speak on what I love more than life itself...SPORTS!!!