TJ Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Other Steelers Share Heartfelt Reactions After Death of Patricia Rooney

by Suzanne Halliburton

Players are mourning Pittsburgh Steelers matriarch Patricia Rooney, who died late Saturday. She was 88.

Patricia Rooney was beloved by her team and the Steeler fans. Her late husband, Dan Rooney, was the chairman of the team and an ambassador to Ireland. Her son, Art Rooney II, now runs the team.

Patricia Rooney died at her home late Saturday. When word of her passing went public, current and former Steelers quickly responded with condolences.

Steeler receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster posted on Twitter: “RIP Mrs. Rooney. Praying for you and the family.”

Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. Watt said: “My thoughts are with the Rooney family during this difficult time.”

Running back James Conner wrote “Rest easy.” Defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt posted “lovely woman.” And former Steeler defensive back Will Allen wrote: “We will miss you. You gave so much to so many. Such a beautiful soul. Rest peacefully.”

Owners from across the NFL also sent out sweet, supportive messages for the Rooneys as they remembered their matriarch.

New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson issued a statement about Patricia Rooney. Benson remembered her friend as a great example for female fans. She said:

“She was a pillar of strength and grace and proudly represented not only the Steelers, but also the millions of female football fans around the world.”

Patricia Rooney Was One Of Four Long-time NFL Matriarchs

The Rooney family has owned the Steelers since the team started playing in the NFL in 1933. Art Rooney Sr was the original owner. And he was in control of the franchise until his death in 1988. Then Dan Rooney, Patricia’s husband and Art’s oldest son, took over as chairman. Art Rooney II became chairman in 2017.

The Rooney family came over from Ireland to the United States in the 1840s. Patricia Rooney was the daughter of Irish immigrants. She and Dan raised a big Irish family. The couple had nine children.

Dan Rooney was a patient team owner, giving his head coaches time to build and establish their rosters. He was chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee. The rule requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate when hiring a head coach is named the “Rooney Rule.”

Patricia Rooney was devoted to the team even before she met and married her future husband. She was working for the Steelers when they met. The two were married for 65 years. Even when her husband died, Patricia Rooney stayed involved with some aspects of the team.

A year ago, ESPN featured the four matriarchs of the NFL in a documentary called “A Lifetime of Sundays.” Patricia Rooney was one of the four. The others were Martha Ford of the Detroit Lions, Norma Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs and Virginia Halas McCaskey of the Chicago Bears.

Art Rooney, in a statement about his mother, said: “My family and I are mourning the passing of my mother, Patricia. She helped raise nine children while supporting my father’s career with the Steelers and his time as Ambassador to Ireland. It is a sad day for our family.”