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Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, one of the most influential owners in the NFL, died at the age of 84 on Thursday, sending a shockwave through the league. Rooney was the eldest son of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney and he became the owner of the team for 15 years before handing off the duties to his son Art Rooney, Jr.

"Few men have contributed as much to the National Football League as Dan Rooney", NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Thursday.

"The passing of Mr. Rooney is a hard time, not just for myself, the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and the National Football League". - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. And Rooney, a white man from Pittsburgh, left his mark as a groundbreaker as well. "Like my father (Al Davis), Mr. Rooney was a champion of diversity in our sport and his legacy in this league will live on forever". Rooney was a key piece of the Steelers organization all the way up to the day of his death. - Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker. It says teams have to interview at least one minority candidate when hiring a new head coach or general manager. Dan Rooney was a great president for the Steelers and made all of the players that wore the black and gold of the Steelers feel welcome and appreciated.

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"We knew that Mr. Rooney would be a mighty ally, and he was", Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten and executive director Harry Carson, said in an email. He was a high school quarterback and was a 1955 graduate of Duquesne University in his home town.

He is survived by Patricia, his wife of 65 years, as well as seven children, 20 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four brothers.

"He shaped the league with instincts, wisdom and a soft-spoken velvet touch", Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the Associated Press.

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