Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 2 years ago

Jim Rooney

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Joining the Huddle is Jim Rooney, son of former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Rooney discusses his novel, A Different Way to Win, and his dad's legacy. Gus and Rooney also talk about NFL topics such as the Rooney rule and the two debate who they feel is the rudest fan base in the country. Find out all of this and more when you join Gus and Jim Rooney in the huddle! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Welcome everyone to huddle up with gusts, where we talked to our guests about how sports shake their life. I'm your host, gust far at, fifteen year NFL quarterback, and I'm joined by my longtime friend and cohost, Dave Hagar. You can now find us under the big top with the sports circus and ring master sow. Look for us on Am TV a a MP tvcom. Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of puddle off with Gusts. I'm your host, gusts far at, fifteen year NFL quarterback. I'm usually joined by my co host Dave, but Dave is not with me today, so I'll be running this episode Solo. I'm pretty excited about that. Today's guests Jim Rooney. You probably definitely know the last name, but Jim has been around, obviously one of the Rooney's, part of the steelers family for a long time. wrote an incredible book called a different way to win, about his father, and the stories in it are incredible. We're going to get a little bit to of those in later, but today's guests Jim Rooney. Thanks for joining us, Jim, and glad to have you on huddle up with gusts guss, it's great to see you, great to be here. Love to see a Pittsburgh kid from the football world doing well. So great to be part of the project we're doing. Okay, I need a little bit of a haircut, but other than that, you know, once, once, once I can go get a haircut, I'll feel a lot better. I'm lucky. Yeah, you're lucky. You a little rasor you can, you can do that work. So, you know, one of the how we always start to show we want to find out a little bit about you and your childhood and that first memory that you have, and probably can guess what it is, but the first memory you have of why you fell in love with sports. Well, you know, Guss, I was born into it. There's not much I could say. I've had this, this fantastic life because of this industry and it's been a blessing. I guess the story, though, that that I remember most. That's that is the sort of introduction is. You know, my family would always go, take to these games and come back, you know, five hours later, and me, Mike. So, so there's nine of us. I'm the eighth of nine, and me and my sister Joan would be babysat because we were too young ago the Games. And so there was this Gamer on Christmas time and they all came back and everyone was crying and cheering and my brother Dan, who's about five years older than me, picked me up and hug me. My mother grabbed me and hug me, and that was the day of the IMMACT, that reception. So I was five or six years old. Didn't go, but but you know, three hours later, the way they came into the house was about as happy as I've ever seen, you know, my family. Oh, I couldn't even imagine that. I mean that's a great memory. So you, being one of nine, you had almost the whole you had a team right there. So I couldn't imagine what it was like for you guys. If you were bored, you know, dad would just send you outside, go, say, go play ball in the street or do something like that. What you guys do when you were when you were young, when you were growing up? What was your game of choice? Well, so we played football every single day and we had we had so so there was nine of us for boys, and my younger sister and two of my sisters were probably better than that. All of us. Had we been, you know, thirty years later, they would have they would have been the star athletes. And we had a family whose uncle actually was Pete Flarry, the mayor. Their name was Smith and they're there. Billy con the great boxer, was there uncle. They were all great athletes. Couple went to Stanford and a couple other places played football. So there was there was five of them, nine of us and you know, we played football every single day. I remember one day my father comes home, so you're thinking the good side of the story, but we're outside playing with his football and I got it out of his closet and so we're playing and he goes, where do you get that ball, and it's an NFL ball and I said, you know, I got out of the closet and he gave it to him. He was so upset. Well, he it was the...

...game ball from super bowl thirteen and he just meant to get it painted and he never just didn't get around to because he had a million things going on. So right, we scraped that ball up a little bit playing football in the street. Did he still get it painted? He did get it paid and we never touched it again after that. I could have mad mean for me growing up, grew up in Fort City and for cliff we wrote our bikes go get all the kids in a neighborhood. We had a ball field we went to and we had a basketball court. We played everything, I mean as well as you have a place to play. Did you guys play Wolofoball at all? We played whif football, we played, you know, baseball. Yeah, it was, you know, was such a good time because you played three sports and you know, I was I wasn't very good at the my I mean I had friends who played basketball and wrestling in the winner, you know, in addition to football and baseball. So you know, that was such a great time that you just you just played and I think, and again I'm not M my athletic ability is limited, but we were better and I think a lot of ways we may not have been conditioned and we may not have known the strategy the same way, but you had to play all three sports. You know, you learn moves and basketball that would help you not get tackled, and football you learned, I. Coordination Hitting The ball, and baseball, you know, that helped you catch a football and and look, the world is the world. I'm glad that that were were at, but I do think there's something missing where we don't have the three sport world anymore. No, I totally agree, and I think the other thing too is missing is you know, when you went out with all those people and you played in the streets, you had a let, you had to be the the referee, the coach. You know, there were no parents around, there were no other people telling you how to pick teams and all that, and you figured those things out on your own, and I thought that's such a valuable lesson that our kids today kind of Miss. Well, I absolutely my my brother Dan, who I've mentioned before. He's a scout for the stills. Lives down in North Caroline. He's actually the guy that found Willie Parker. We're talking about scouting people. But Dan beat the crap out of me so many times I drop the ball, Yo, you. I don't know if you guys did this, but you had. You'd have one series and if you had three receptions you got staff. Yep. So if I dropped a ball on that third reception, man, it was it was the worst thing in the world because my brother beat the crap out of me. For that. So that's that's pretty good. Yeah, that's rusually a way. Hey, yeah, that's usually outwait, but you know, I think that kids don't learn those types of things. You know, it just respect. When you're the younger one, you got to respect the older one and the older one has to take care of the younger ones too, even though they may be tough on you. But nobody's going to be a bully to my kid on my team right. And that's kind of how when I think we miss some of that today. And and I just enjoyed sports my whole life the same way you did. We grew up in the town they had a lot of kids and and we just went out and we played and we had a lot of fun and yeah, sometimes you got a bra but you know the thing about it was you just left to go and you went right back and started playing again. We'd get in fights yo go home for lunch. Think the kids that fought, you know, after lunch they'd be on the same team and you know you were. You were ready to go and mean you never you know, my best friends I fought with more than anyone else never fought with in my life, you know, and they're my best friends today, you know right. So your family has a little bit of boxing history. Did any of you, or your brother and sister, sisters, everybody, ever do any boxing? So that's a great question, Goss. I remember I was going to join this boxing club and it's really a touching thing. Actually, every time I tell of the story I kind of tear up and I understand it now even more so. And so I'm joining his boxing club and mother thought this would be good athletically. I've diabetes, so you know, everything about it was sort of good. And my grandfather stepped in. You know, are Runey, the chief. He said he's not boxing and my mother said that would be good for him. He said I boxed so these kids would never have to. And you know, I has. You know, I still it's still gets me like the sacrifice that boxers make is like no other, and you know that and and his willingness to really own that that was his life, that...

...he did that, you know, for the next generations of his family and and you know that's the American dream. These folks that are, you know, a hundred years ago now, took on responsibilities and sacrifices and ways that you know, are just are just amazing. And Look, I've benefited, my family's benefited. But my grandfather who started the team and really started us in the sports industry, you know, it wasn't easy, wasn't always fun. It was you know, wasn't romantic, and that's part of the path. Yeah, I know, I completely get it. To drew grandfather ever to talk about who his favorite boxer was. Well, you know it's favorite boxer was billy con you know, the Pittsburgh kid right, who was his promoter with okay, you know, but but he had you know, you know the one thing that that isn't talked about in the history of Art Rooney as much as my grandfather promoted the first fight between two African Americans for an open heavyweight championship at Forbes field and nine eighteen and fifty two, I believe, Jersey Joe Wolcott and Ezra Charles. It was when Joe Lewis retired. There was the promoter of the fight to, you know, win the chant the heavyweight championship after that. So he actually did a lot in boxing in those early days and then, you know, kind of it went to Vegas and sort of beyond Pittsburgh. But but you know, Pittsburgh was a great fight town. I got to think there had to be some great boxers up in Armstrong County and I bet he, you know, he helped promote them, or so I mean he was heavily involved through the S S S and box. Yeah, there's some great little boxing clubs around the Pittsburgh area. I mean I've been to a few recently where there's those boxing clubs are still going and you can go see a match for charity and different things like that and they're kind of fun. My wife always gets nervous. She does want anybody get hurt. But I said they, you know, most of them are. You know, if they're younger, they're wearing the headsets and everything. But you know boxing. It's kind of a markable story about your grandfather, how he was so into boxing. Seems like sometimes when you get in green and boxing it's hard to pull yourself away. And then how he switched and said, okay, I'm going to get into football when it wasn't even I mean there were a lot of stripes and hardships back then with football. Well, you know, it's fine. I've been speaking. They to students throughout this. I've talked to him bout ten different sports industry, sports business students, you know, in these schools across the country that the sports management program throughout this sort of covid experience. And you know, in all them I say look, my grandfather, you know, we own this business nowle that's, you know, unbelievably, you know, valuable, whatever they call it, you know, but my grandfather got into it because it was during the depression. He would have preferred to buy a baseball team, but he could never afford to do that. He got into the steelers because it cost nothing to get in. You know, got lucky. And I've been telling these kids like look, think about the sports industry, to think about what's going on with with things that like you and I are doing, these online things. Is there a way you can create a new type of engagement with the fans? Is there something you can invent? Is there? Is there something you can get into now? Wow, while you know there's some tough times around parts of the industry, because you know this is going to be a great opportunity ten, fifteen years from now, and that's certainly the path my grandfather took. But but so. But boxing fed him until the mid S. I mean really was my father who took the steelers business and made it successful. My grandfather's success in business really was much more in boxing than it ever really was in football. Yeah, I just interviewed Steve Lot. He was he I don't know if you know who Steve is, but he has the boxing hall of fame. Yeah, online, and he was assistant manager with Tyson and he has seventy five years of boxing footage that he actually owns and we had a great conversation about boxing and man his knowledge of it was incredible and it goes a whole way back into the s and s and ow it's started and how our country fell in love with it. And and he was talking about I think it was when who was a fighting over in...

Ireland. Was it Ireland they were fighting? I can't remember who it was, but he said the president called them and said your country is is betting on you. May Have Been Joe Lewis. I'm not sure who was fighting at that time. Right there, you know, the President calls you and says hey, your country is behind you, we want you to win. Like you gotta Win that round, right you're fighting somebody from Europe and it's like, okay, this is a big match and boxing is just such ingrained into our history. I think it was just incredible that now it's all flit like boxing was bigger, football isn't as big and it's all just kind of taken a different turn and it's amazing that the long game, that your family had to look at that and see that as this is something that we think is going to work well. You know my father, I think Dan Mooney, did a lot for the business of the whole sports industry, but particularly as it relates the NFL when you look at the Labor agreements. You know he was the first owner, way ahead on labor. My grandfather art actually is the guy who made the proposal in a League meeting that there be a players union in one thousand nine hundred and fifty seven. And then my father, you know, was the chief negotiator and you know he was the first one that understood free agencies going to come. We have to find a way to create competitive balance and keep the game interesting for our fans, but you can't not let the players have some degree of movement and you know he was he was talking about that in the mid S and and you know you didn't get free agency until ninety three. But it was that approach to business that my father always looked at. Look, let's grow this pie as large as we can, and that's going to happen best if we're all willing to share, whether it was the revenue sharing between the teams or free agency with the with the players. And you know, look the the NFL is as has gone through the roof and there were certainly a lot of people involved, but I but I always feel that that you know that that sort of steady hand. My father would be as tough as you could be in certain negotiations, but he always looked at the big picture and and you know and understood that you have to treat people well and if you did that, you know I contribute that to so much of the reason the NFL has become what it's become. Right you're listening to HUDO UP WITH GHOSTS GUSTS FURRAD and we're here with Jim Rooney and you can catch us on Radiocom or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, and on amp TV, amp dot TV. So, Jai, let's go back you know, I think your family, I mean everybody in your family, all went to the same high school. And my correct. We actually didn't. We all went to different high school really I thought you guys are all north Catholic, kind of the delation before us did so my dad and his brothers, they all went to north and then my mother wanted, you want us to go to some other schools. So art and I remember who's the president. My brother art went to a school called Gilmour Academy, which is a holy cross brother school. Noted him actually own this school. It's in Ohio back in the day and my son actually went there. And then my brother's, Dan and John, went to went to other schools. All my sisters had to go to the all girls Catholic school near our house. And you know, my brothers and I were going to these other places. But so so. But north is is an important part of our family and you know they've done a great thing right now. They've even moved further north. Yeah, you used to be a lot closer for you guys, but what was it like for you when you went to Gilmore? I mean that's your away from home. was like a boarding school almost. It did. Yeah, as I said, art and I lived in dorms and I guess Dan did as well, and you know so. So my mother felt that in and emity would be a good thing for us in high school, that that the idea of everyone sort of knowing the Rooney story is is great and we're very grateful for the life we have in Pittsburgh. But drawing that time, so this critical time, she thought that that would happen. Well, she sends it is a school that is basically in Cleveland and he knows the Rooney's. But they hate us. Say, you know,...

...you could have sent us in the middle of Indiana or something, but you know so. So we put up with a lot of views for many, many years going to browns games, and I was there Dorny, right before you start, in the NFL, when when Bernie was sort of tearing up the League. Yeah, the browns had some good teams late S, early s. You did. They were beating the steelers all the time when I was in high school. So did you play sports in high school? Three sports in yeah, I played up, I played you know, I played varsity football. You know, I'm about five foot eight, but I played defensive back. You know, I got a letter when I was a when I was a sophomore, and I played catcher, but I just didn't have the arm after JV. I Love Baseball, I just didn't have the arm to, you know, gun that ball down to second well enough. So they basically said you can, you can play second base or get out of here. And you know, I think I played one more year at second base, but it's you know, I just wasn't good enough right. You know, it's it's a tough sport. I mean you got to have all the talent and you got to build that cake and if you're missing something little, I mean for me baseball was a mental game for me, you know, where I had an arm to be able to throw the ball, but mentally pitching, where everybody thought I would, you know, be six five standing on the mound and throw a ninety mile an hour fastball, but mentally to do it for six or seven innings, I just wasn't there yet as a kid I just didn't like it, you know, and that's why baseball, I mean luckily I could I could hit okay, but other than that. So did you ever have that problem? Where I'm playing against you know, you're playing against schools up in Cleveland, I'm sure, and they said, all those are the Rooney Boys, we're going to go after him. Oh yeah, that happened in football all the time. You know, it's you know, I was I was defensive back and a running back and you know, I had people jumping on the pile taking shots, you know, all the time. And and you know, I was a little bit like Dion Sanders. I Wore I wore number twenty one and I was always talking craft of these kids about, you know, the steelers won all these super bowls. You know, like I was always and I was that little guy that had too big a mouth and I paid for it more often than I should have. Yeah, but you know what, I think that's kind of fun. I think that's kind of what you had to do. You know, if I was in your shoes, I probably would have done the same thing. Like you got to stick up for yourself, especially when you're not at your home, you're you're away and it's you and your brothers and you got to kind of say, all right, we're going to go out and do this thing and we're going to stick up for where we're from. And I think that's that pride that comes out in you. I had this huge steeler stadium coat. You know, those coats that go down to your ankles. Yeah, so you know it's always cold and Cleveland. You played some games up there. So every I get about ten seats. You know, was awesome. We go down to municipal stadium, you know, get a row and I take all my all my teammates to the game and they're always like don't you have to wear the jacket? And every time, if people start throwing beer, and these guys are all browns fans and they end up having to be in fights in the stadium because I'm wearing the steeler Jack and they're just like hey, just leave in the car today, and I'm like you, I'm like, I'm not backing down. You know. They're like yeah, but we all have to fight for it right. Yeah, they got to stick up for you. You know, when when I would go play in Philadelphia, you know I would. I would always kind of when I'd get tickets for friends and family, I say look, I know you guys want to wear I was with the red skids, played for the Vikings. We went there. I said no, you want to wear our colors and my Jersey and all that, but maybe she just wear like a kind of a bland coat over top of it, you know, because those eagles fans are kind of nuts. I'm sure that's similar story that you had there and I'm sure you know. You know I've been a lot of games here in Pittsford tune. The seelers fans are a little bit like that, but they're not as bad as other places I've been. Yeah, Cleveland's tough and Baltimore Stop Phillies the worst. I went to a flyers game, you know, playoff game against the pens once and same thing. I mean we were...

...we were adults, but there was about eight of us in this row and I'm like man, I'm sitting on the end of this row. This, this is not it's not a comfortable feeling in Philadelphia. You know, Start Your Day sunny side up at the Weston Bonaventure Hotel and sweets and enjoy breakfast or two on us. No matter how you plan to spend your trip to Los Angeles, start every day with a hearty meal to kick start your morning. Enjoy breakfast for two on US each day. You stay for reservations. Be sure that Promo Code S for B appears in the Promo codebox when making your online reservation at Mariottcom. BACKSLASH LAX BW or call one eight hundred two to eight one thousand two hundred and ninety and asked for a promotional code s for B. Oh yeah, so Dante calpepper, if you remember him, a quarterback. We were together two vikings. We go play in a playoff game in Philly and the team's even warning us, like you know, if your families come in, you know that. I know they they want us, they're proud of you, they want to wear your stuff and and don't we are, you know. I remember Dante's mom saying no, I'm wearing I'm supporting my son, wearing all this stuff, and and I forget how many beer she had thrown on her. Like they had a escort so many people out of her section. It was it got really ugly. I mean Philadelphia's that's why they had a jail in the prisoner or in the stadium, I guess. Well, you know that that franchise is the franchise my grandfather started. So in one thousand nine hundred and forty eight. We switched that. There was, you know, some big thing after the war and financing. So the guy bought the steelers from my grandfather and he was going to move them to Boston and my grandfather was going to partner with Burt Bell Right Philadelphia and he decided he wanted to go to Philadelphia and my dad convinced burt bell to come to Pittsburgh. We never missed the season, but there was actually a time when there might not have been football and Pittsburgh we would have been involved in Philadelphia. So so the franchise that is the steelers actually is the original eagles and they if the eagles are the original steelers. Not Too many people know that. No, no, that that makes the rivalry go way back then. Right. So after high school, you graduate from Gilmore. What was your next step for for you? So I was. I was one of those kids, you know, another guy that you know, inspired sort of that lifetime you and I had in those late s. You know, I'll never forget this game. It was the Friday after Thanksgiving. What one thousand nine hundred and eighty five or six. I'm watching Boston College in this little quarterback throw this pass and so so I end up going to be see love BC. Had A great time up in Boston. Never you have never, never picked up a football there. Couldn't get couldn't get near that team, but it was. It was a great place to be and actually became became buddies for a while with, I think, a guy you were teammates with in were you ever teammates with Romanowski? Yeah, so, yeah, Como Romo and I were buddies for for a little bit. He was I think he was a year ahead of me and you know, we just became friends because of, you know, different things, but you know I love Dromo. You know. Yeah, Rom Romo was great. People really had issues with them, but I never did. We always kind of sat by each other on the planes when I played. We played together on the broncos. Right, right bill always had this big suitcase with them right and they'll had all kind of pills and creams and I remember what we were plaque. Can't remember who we were playing, but I got my elbow was just killing me because I got hit and I said, Romo, you got anything for me? And he gave me this this cream out of an old oil oil vallet. Jar and he said, look, this plant was picked under a full moon with no clouds in the sky. We made into a cream. It's kind of help your elbow. And I'm like yeah, okay, I hope I don't have to drug test next week, you know. And Look, there's the the drugs that but you know people that aren't in locker rooms. And Look, I was a ball boy, except right, you were a player, but don't realize there's always one or two those superstitious guys and they got the craziest stuff in the world going on there. And...

...it's always so funny. Like I remember being a ball boy with those carts were we be picking up all the socks and jocks, and you know, Sydney Thornton was the famous guy, but we had two or three of those guys Yo, and like if you will pass them at a certain time, they get upset at you. If you put the thing on the right side rather than left, they were going to have a bad practice. Yeah, Ay, like I didn't even go near any of those. You know anything superstitious guys. Just I've ever had like for me it was too much energy to do all that stuff. Like you know, like I've seen guys like lay out their whole uniform on the ground in front of their locker before the Games so they can see how it's going to look when it's on their body. And I'm like what? Like I'm worried about like, okay, if I see a cover to defense, you know, and then all of a sudden they rotate them. I got to go this way on my read. You know, I wasn't worried about what. How my socks looked right, right, exactly. One super stick. One last superstitius story going back to my grandfather's time in the boxing. So you know, we always he would always take a priest with them whenever he went anywhere, and they take two or three friends. Usually some cops were with them. You know, they always went to box they always at horse race, horse match, it horse racing and and boxing. And so you know a boxer does the sign of the cross before he gets in the ring and and and one of his buddies, so I think was a cop, said to the priest, Hey, do you think that will help? And the priest said only if he can fight. Now he said that was the best answer to right, super this and you better be you will be able to do the thing, let alone, you know, just the superstitious. Well, you know what. I was reading your book in some of you were telling some of the stories about boxing, about your grandfather and and who used to go to the matches, and I'm like, well, I wonder if those same people would go to the matches today, you know. And you know, I wonder if it's filled with priests and Catholics and everybody not. You know, I'm thinking not in Vegas. I don't think they're all in Vegas Watch it boxing matches anymore. But you know, it just tells you how the world's changed. Well, and I also think it was such a great immigrant story and so maybe the immigrants of today who come from other countries have that experience. Mean, boxing is the I think it's the ultimate tough guy experience and if you have nothing and you're willing to fight for it, I don't think there's a better way to do it. And that's what my grandfather's generation, you know, what we're doing as Irish, and I think you know. So I wonder if that's that's how it is, because that was that was their day and that was how they stepped into, you know, sports and politics were how the Irish, the Italians, you know, so many folks. That's how we got into, you know, sort of normal society, or you'll finally got accepted. Right, exactly, and I think that, you know, it's amazing that, you know, when reading your book and thinking about everything that your family has done and come through, there's been a lot of similar people that have come through. Picture my family's family and it's my dad was one of fifteen, right, and you know, and they did things just to s five and make money, and they were all in the military and do those types of things. And And the vision that you're day. He loved your grandfather, Love Sports and, you know, not just boxing but everything, and then he said this was what I want to do, even though it probably was tough times for him trying to find the money to buy a team and then do all those things, but he knew that someday that was going to be valuable for his family. And what a family you guys have built. So after college, go to BC. I think you graduated, what was IT in communications? Political Science and communications, right, right. So why did you pick those two? Well, I picked political science because my grandfather always said, you know, you should get in politics you're good with talking with people. You know, he always, he always had good relationships with people in politics and he's the only one I've ever seen in my life, including my father, who ended up doing okay in that world, you know, named himbassador, but my grandfather was the only one I ever knew that had no political enemies. I mean everyone on every side of the out just just like my grandfather. He could deal with them. He...

...could get deals done for his business but stay out of their business and and and just just was fantastic at doing that. So he thought that the communications. I just you know, I don't know why I did that. I guess it just you know, I felt like there was I think it was one of the things where I started, got five classes in and was like okay, if I take three more, I'll get the double major right now. That's great. So when you get out of college, you know, what were the plans like? I mean your family is so ingrained that Ish and your dad is now running the steelers, and what were your plans? That he have some conversations with you about your next step in life. I mean my father and I had great conversations really I mean it's why I wrote the book and felt like I had a point of view that was different. You know, starting in college, you know, I was talking on the phone every night and then when I got home we talked every night. I don't know that we ever said Hey, here's a plan, let's let's go forward with this. It was always talking about you know, this is going on in Ireland. Commissioner Cag Le Booze doing this, this, this young guy, Roger Goodell's doing that. You know a lot about coach Nol and how coach Nol just had you know, you always said like look, coach Nol was my father's best partner and he said, you know, everyone's wrong in life and not going to tell he's not, but he said that man has the most integrity I've ever seen in my life. So, so just learning from these people. Pete rose out just the greatest visionary of all time. Understood where the NFL was going. I actually went to Chile and South America for the first two years after college and work with children with diabetes. I've had diabetes now for forty five years and and my father was a big, big supporter of of doing something like that. He said, look, you know, every wants to get on a career path and that's a great thing. You are fortunate, you know, and and really I was sort of concerned whether it was the right thing to do or not, and he said that would be a just a tremendous experience. So I lived in Chile, working with with children with diabetes in a Third World Country, which is really interesting because diabetes doesn't sort to discriminate. So we had kids that had nothing and would have to sharpen their needles on a rock, and we had kids who had more money, you know, because there's money in the third worlds a little different. If you have it, you have all of it, and they have power that you can't even think of here. So it just these really interesting dynamics with with people and then, you know, helping them, helping them deal with this this disease in a way that you know, was was was humbling because we are look, there's certainly many, many people in America the struggle and I you know, we try to do everything we can to be of support, but the third world is you know, it's just hard to imagine having a chronic illness in a place like that. It's really unimagined when a certain way, I mean people get medicines. There's there's twenty different types of insulin. These guys would get one bottle for three months and have to make it last where you know, I have ten bottles in my fridge now for the next right four months. So just very humbling experience and my father really encouraged in supported me doing now that that's wonderful. We're joined by Jim Rooney, route writer of a different way, a great book about his father, Dan Rooney that he wrote with his brother art. I mean, what a better conversation for me as a Pittsburgher to have? I'm so excited about this. You can listen to this podcast on RADIOCOM and find us on a MTV. So, Jim, you know, one of the biggest things, I think, out of that book, I'm one of the things that your family was about, was inclusion and diversity and how important it was and how that came to be the Rooney rule. Did you guys have many conversations about those types of things? My father and I spoke often about all of these issues related to sort of integration. Bill Nune, who was the great steelers Scout, was one of the first African American Scouts in...

...the NFL. It's funny in the book I researched this and sort of on earth a lot of the data that demonstrates how successful and effective bill was. And you know, the NFL hadn't captured this day to not not in the quantifiable way that we did, which is surprising. But but when you look at the players from these historically black collegees, this is before there was integration. So they weren't going to Alabama, they weren't going to Texas. You know other you know, Penn State and the northern schools, in the Western schools had integrated in the in the S and s. So you're getting to the s where some of these other schools hadn't. And you know now jod and go to a traditional HBCU, but Joe Green would be recruited by Texas today. Yeah, you go, green played at North Texas state. So many of the these guys, Mel Blond, I mean, you know and so so mel comes from this experience. He had never had a white teammate or coach in his life before, where he came to the Pittsburgh steelers and and talking to mel about that experience and you know I've gotten to know mel pretty well and and the way he shared about my father and just how he said, you know, I had whatever view I had of sort of white people and your father just always treated me with so much dignity and respect. He said we got this really bad contract negotiation. Seventy five we get the deal done and I'm thinking, well, that's the last deal ever have with this guy. And he says I happen to open the the Mel Blunt Youth Home and Georgia. You know his work with with that risk. It's he said the first person to come visit the home on the on the opening day was your father. He says I didn't even in. Not, not, they didn't invite him, but you know, I just never had that expectation right. And so the way he described that story, I'm not really doing it justice, but but just demonstrated that, you know, this was something my father really didn't just talk about it and just talk about from strategic standpoint, but he had made this commitment. So then when you get to the coaching situation, you know, you know, fifteen years later my father helped put the rule into in a in a practice and it ends up getting named after him. But what he really did was the next fifteen years is every time there was an opening, you know, he would talk to coaches, general managers, owners and certainly he didn't, you know, only advocate for minorities, but he really made sure that they had had a good understanding of what candidates were available, because one of the things that folks said as well, I'm not familiar, was available. So he just spent this tremendous amount of time familiarizing himself with these candidates and being able to speak on their behalf so they would get interviews, they would get opportunities. And you see, not only the rule named after him, and we can talk about the challenges today that are there, and they're there, but but during his lifetime yet a three hundred percent increase in the head coaches. In terms of head coaching hires, you you had a an increase of forty percent. Now total it's completely switched where forty percent of the coaches on the defensive side of the ball are African American. In the NFL you had a twenty percent increase in on field officials and and so it wasn't just sort of the policy, it was this work that my father committed his life to to make sure that, you know, people were implementing this and carrying out, as Tony Gungie calls it, the spirit of the woomable. Yeah, I think, you know, when I was reading your book, I think the spirit almost goes back. There's a there's a place in there that was a priest that used to Tuck your grandfather, that a bother. He Father Glasgow, talked to my father and and he was he became our parish priest and he invited my father to go to sell my Alabama, and my father didn't go on this marked back in the s and I talked about that as being a catalyst. You know, sometimes you don't do something right and it really sort of changes your mind and my father sort of says that that moment sort of made him realize, Oh, what I could do most for this this issue of you know,...

...they called it integration back then, is with my team. You know, can I make a real commitment, and he always wanted Merrit, he didn't want guys who weren't good enough, but can we make a commitment, you know, to really integrating and giving folks an opportunity and Chuck Noll and build none were just such an important part. They believed in those same things with him. And then you get the story of Joe Gilliam and again, talking to mel talking to John Stall or talking to Donnie about the about the when chuck named Joe Gilliam is the first starter, first quarterback, start, African American to start an FL season. You know, Joe wasn't that successful, but but what it meant to the rest of the players was, if I'm the best at my position, you know I'm going to get a chance to start here and and it. You know, they conveyed the sense of trust is being so meaningful and so deep. Yeah, I think that's an amazing thing. That that your family took on, your dad took on, created a rule change and you know, the probably has to be some politics in it because there are probably some owners that don't want to hear about that right. They want to do what they want to do. They don't want to go buy what other teams are doing. Right. So for him to be not only a great owner, a great leader for your organization, but then to also be a great leader for the whole NFL, man, you must be really proud I am. And you know the rooty rule is now gone beyond Amazon uses it. Goldman sacked. So it's kind of cool to see that legacy go beyond football and you know that to me really indicates it's it's even more important. So now, when you do your keynote speeches and you go out and talk, is this a part of it when you're talking to companies, or do you try to integrate it if they want you to talk about something else, because it is important. You know, with immigration, we're all immigrants in one way or another and you know some companies, you know, see it one way and other companies see it another way. Do you feel like that's a little bit of your responsibility when you make those talks? I absolutely. Now you know I try to pay attention if I think there's going to be a lot of resistance. You know, I talk about it more in relationship to change and having different opinions. And now you know in the market place you're going to have different opinions, you're can have different points of view and if you want to be able to deserve the market you you better have some mindset that is not just a singular mindset. So so I talked about it from that same point. Other folks have me come in and talk about diversity per se, which I'm not an expert and I try always bring an expert with me if that's what they want me to do. But I but what I'm talking to the corporate world. You know, I talked about my father's work and hiring. I talk about his work and changing culture and I talked about his work and negotiating. Those are sort of three of the main core competencies he has. And you know, the hiring is a is a really easy story to tell. You know, you hire three coaches in you know, in fifty years. I don't know. You were on a couple teams and struggle with you might have three coaches in one season. You know. I know that. Yeah, I mean that happens right. Yeah, I mean it. Look at the browns now. You know, they go through coaches every year. It's like what? There's got to be some consistency and I think that what you know in your book when you talk about the long game, that's part of it, right. It's the consistency. We're going to have ups and downs, but we got to have good, credible people that are running our team so that those ups and downs are going to come, but it's always going to be as the same that we can handle and deal with. Well, maybe you can give a perspective on this, but I talked about him walking down the aisle of the of the plane after we lost, and I saw him do that a hundred times and and we would I would talk him about eas look, I just want people to know you don't lose your cool. You know you're going to have bad days. Things are going to happen. It doesn't mean we're not committed to a championship, but you can't be freaking out when things don't go your way, because then you're not going to be prepared for the next thing. I don't know how you, as a player, would see that, but he felt that was really important. Valet, stay and play on your next...

...getaway to Los Angeles. The Weston Bonaventure Hotel and sweets offers effortless access to all the city of angels has to offer, whether you're hoping to catch a concert or sporting event. Our hotels just moments away from all the action and accessible to Hollywood, beaches, museums and theme parks. The package includes a guest room and valet parking. For reservations, use Promo Code PSF in the code box when making your online reservation, or call one two hundred and thirty six to four one thou and ask for Promo Code PSF. Well, when your boss, as you know, when your boss comes in and says, look, it's okay, let's just start tomorrow, let's have a better day tomorrow, let's learn from it and let's get better, right. That's a big difference. And nobody speaking to you and you're in your own head flying back on a plane because you had a tough game and three interceptions. Two of them maybe yours fault, maybe one got tipped. And then then you go home and you talk to your wife about it and your you just lament about it over two or three days and then nobody talks to your coach, doesn't call you, they don't want to speak to you because you lost this game that they didn't want to lose. And and then it's like it really gets your head. But when you would have somebody like that come down that aisle and you would see him coming and you know he was coming from a good place, your mood, your attitude changes and I think that's why he was such a great leader for for the steelers for so long. Yeah, thanks, and I he he felt it worked and you know, it's always good to hear players reaction to it, because he was, you know, he tried to care for everyone, but he really cared for the players. He really understood the sacrifices you folks make. You know that your careers are going to be short, that you're putting yourself on the line physically, that that look there's there's bad guys in every locker room, there always are, but the majority of guys are really good people and they do good things that don't get half the recognition that that, you know, some of the other stuff gets, and it was just really important to him that that he saw that they had their back. The other thing that he I rarely talked to so rarely hurt him talk about when he talked about being great, about being excellent, and he said winning or calm if you're committed to being great, and I thought that was sort of an interesting philosophy. Well, I think it goes back to what a pitts pittsburgher is right. It's about being authentic it's about hard work, it's about being like everybody else, and that's what Pittsburgh really is. And and I think your dad really did a good job, though, because when you when you hear about him walking home after games through the crowds and like, you know, I am just one of you. You know, I may be the owner, but I'm one of you, and that's what pittsburghers and that's what I feel is is like hey, I'm going to go out and cut my grass and I'm going to do the things that everybody else does, because that's what my dad did and that's that's kind of what how we were all made and built, you know, out of the steel town. My Dad was a mill guy and and it's just something about the adden authenticity of your dad that, I think that the players fell in love with, that the people respected him, and and that's why, you know, they could definitely talk to both sides of the isle. Yeah, yeah, he was, he was. He's really good at doing that. And and you know, he never tried to be something he wasn't, you know, and he wasn't allowed guy. So we didn't try to be loud. You know, he understood that. Coach, you know he's think about I know you talked about these talks I give you. Know, coach no was the quietest guy I've ever known and success it. Bill Cower is is boisterous and you know you want him to be your leader. Coach Tomlin is matter of fact. All three of them are completely different, but they're all effective because they're themselves right. So let me ask you question about your family. So they're they're there are eight brothers and sisters and you. And so you had all these great role models, right, your grandfather, your father. And so when you guys, do you ever catch any of your brothers sisters? If somebody wanted to get out of line, do you...

...call him up and say, you know, remember what dad would have said or whatever? You know, do you guys find yourself doing that sometimes? Well, they would all say, I'm the one that that does that the most. You know, we talk. I don't know that we do that. We talk a lot about it, about you know, look, we have, we have, we've had human experiences. Everyone else. I've. We've lost three of our sisters have passed away from different diseases, one from cancer, one from lupus. I'm sorry and yeah, thanks but you know what I mean. So it's we've never sort of gotten on each other's back, but we were constantly in contact. It's funny, you know now that we text each other. We have a text chain and we on game days and we tell ourt this. You know, we have two different text chains and one is all supportive, because our you know, he has, he's a job to do. He doesn't need to hear US complaining about a guy dropping a pass. So here, you know, all the support in the world. And then there's a couple other ones. Every once in a while we're like, you know, like every other fan, like you know, why couldn't he catch that ball right right guards like I just bought him a new judge machine, exactly. But you, Hey, you know. I mean, you know this Goss and I hope that we have been, as you know, you know, certainly connected to this community, is, as my grandfather and father were. But there is a big responsibility my brother has. I mean it is it is the job, and I don't say this, I hope people don't hear this, is Arroga and it's the job everyone in town wants. So we really try to respect that. His life is is you know, there's a lot of scrutiny there. Everyone sort of everyone thinks they can do as job and you know, it's like a quarterback. You know, it's it's very easy for me to tell you you should have read that coverage different than you did, but no one's hitting me when I'm telling you that. Right, right, and and and in A. I mean not that he's has that physical risk, but but, but that's that's sort of part of it. So so the way we gather together, I think, as much more. Hey, look, there's enough sort of pressure and I look, we're very fortunate. I'm not, I'm not. I don't want to start a complaint, but but you know, there's enough stuff going on that we try to really be support of, particularly of of our yeah, well, art has a big legacy to uphold. Right. I mean that's got to be a lot of pressure in itself. You A, you know. And so I think he's doing a wonderful job. I think the steelers organization is is doing quite well. You know, one of the things that I really wanted to ask you was, you know, you wrote this book. You interviewed a lot of people. I read all the list of people at the end of the book that you got to talk to. What is your favorite part of the book? I mean every part was was wonderful and of itself. You know, Paul Tag Leabou, who spent really the most time with my dad and the business side. Having him share those moments was really cool. The guys who would come from those those hbcu experience, I mean just a different life, you know, until they're twenty one and then they come to Pittsburgh and become part of this magnificent team. And time there was a there's a guy in Ireland named John Hume who's considered the Martin Luther King of the peace process, and his wife, you know, had me on the phone for two hours and she was crying. It was another guy who was is a terrorist. I mean this guy was in prison for for terrorism. Got Out. My father was a guy who really worked with him about, you know, trying to trying to sort of become a role model for the kids in this Irish community where they were all killing each other. And he talks about, you know, this guy's a big, strunk, tough guy, has killed people and he's in tears telling me about how my father helped change his life. So there was some pretty pretty special moments there and it was wonderful. And then Tony Dungie, you know the runey rule side. Talking to Tony about that. You know Paul who had...

...elected with the routey rule, but Paul was sort of the business side and Tony was sort of the how the coaching side transformed, and so it was nice. It was was really cool to see Paul and Bill Cower at the Super Bowl and and both of them told me at separate times that that my father was their role model and these two guys just got in the hall of fame and you to hear that from from two different people like that. You know, again, I don't want to be I mean, it's not me I do with it, but but you know, it was just a blessing to have that experience right. I mean what an experience. I mean what a you know, there's been tons of people that have written books about your family. You know, I'm sure that the you know, you have all of them on your shelf. Yeah, you know what I mean, and now you got the right one about your family. It's either like, there's a couple ways it can go, but I think what you how you wrote a different way to win was beautiful and I think it tells the story about your family really, really well and, you know, thanks for sharing that with us. Gus, thanks for having me and just love seeing you do so well. I rooted for you. I rooted for Hell like yet and I'll never forget when you had Bot of the wall. So you're probably sick of that, but you were doing so damn good that game. Well, you know you you so it goes back to what we talked about earlier, right. I had a lot going on with my head coach, who wasn't completely they're like, you know what I mean. It wasn't a communication like there wasn't that what you talked about with your walking back that aisle. There was never that with him, and that was trying to figure out what he wanted and we were on different pages all the time, and so there was a lot of turmoil between us. was having a good game and just was so excited to score touchdown ran in and it's not like Hey, I'm going to jump off that wall and hit my head, you know, but it happened. And you know, one of the things that I've learned from growing up in Pittsburgh was. You know, there's going to be stuff that happens to you in your life and you can either let it bring you down or you can just get back up on a horse and keep going and and to me, that's what being a pittsburghers all about. Like I had one of the worst things happened to me in front of eighty million people watching it on TV, and still played another, you know, eleven years after that. So things can happen in your life that you know, whether it's something like that that's very embarrassing and hard to deal with, or to death or we all have those issues. That's why this pandemic, to me, is not anything that we as Americans and pittsburghers can't deal with. You know, it's just hey, it's going to be here, let's get let's do the best we can, let's get it over with and let's move on. You know, as Daryl Green always said to me, you know the most important plays and next play. Yeah, but hay out, I'll say, based on what you just said. My father always said the worst thing you can do in a business is confused someone right, and so you know you you're talking about those coaches confusing you, he said. You know that that just is. It's the worst thing you can do in a business. So yeah, that's why I work with Dr Gary Russell Out of Connecticut. Now he as a company called winning profile and he don't files you and he lets you know who you are, so then people around you understand who you are and how to deal with you. Always said when I got into a huddle with ten other guys, sometimes you had to yell at one, sometimes you just had a pat in the back, sometimes you couldn't even look at one right you just had to let him go. But everybody was different and until you got to know those other guys you wouldn't really get them to play their best until you knew them. And I felt like that's always been the case with me. You got to get to know me to bring the best out in me. So, Hey, thanks for joining us on huddle up with Gus. You can find us on RADIOCOM wherever you listen to your favorite APP or your podcast, and also on AMTV. One last thing. What we do? We call it the no huddle jam. We have a little fun with this and it's just a couple quick questions and you can fire them off if fire,...

...and back and it's a lot of fun at the end of the show here. So first question is, what is your biggest pet peeve? What is my biggest pet pe? When computers don't work like skype. I hear you. All right, all right, now, this is a tough one. Right, this is a tough one. But you only could pick, for you could be coaches, players, whoever. What is your Mount Rushmore of steelers? Oh, I'm going to sound arrogant here, but I know it still is pretty well, Art Rooney, Danny, chuck, Nolan, Joe Green. Love it perfect. I love the Ford by Joe Too. That was great. It was that was wonderful. Okay, if you had a pick a favorite football player that was a non stealer, who would it be? Jim Brown? Jim Brown. Well, you were in Cleveland for a long time, so I guess it's you know, if you went to school over in New York, it might have been somebody else. All right. Now, if you could go back in time and give a young Jim Rooney some advice, what would that advice be? Well, you know, I married a woman. We were both pretty young and, like you, we had kids right away. And you know I at the time I didn't know if it was the best right thing to do and was the best thing I've ever done in my life. So I would say don't doubt yourself one on that decision. Certainly, yeah, that does come in and when you go back and think about when you were younger, what could I have done differently? And my wife and I walk all the time we say we can't change anything that's happened to us like this. Just move on. Okay, this is a good one. I want to hear this from you. Okay, if you could be commissioner of the NFL for a day, what's one rule change you would make? There's a lot more than one. Give me your top I would say this. You know. Well, they kind of fixed it, but it's the Jesse James Catch there. You know, the guy has two feet and possession. It's a catch. We've all known that our whole lives and we sort of started to ruin that with with that. So, so that, and that this crazy interference thing, you know. You know, that drives me, not that they were reviewing interviewer interference last if, if, if I, if I had control of a team, I would say run the ball right, run the ball. Give me rocky and Franco back and run the ball right. Okay, what is your favorite sports movie? Gosh, me and trouble, because I should say a football one. There's a lot of football ones I enjoy, but but field of dreams is my favorite football movie. Yeah, yeah, that's a great that's a great sports movie. Okay, this is a tough one and I don't think it will ever happen, but will the steelers ever leave Latrobe for training camp? Well, you know, I I we all hope that it never does. I do worry about just sort of where the whole business is going. Are you going to get to the point where you they just do like two weeks of training camp and then is it? Is it worth it to just not be in the facility? I worry about that because we should. We it should never happen. But I worried at football is going to drive us there, you know? Oh, yeah, yeah, because a lot of teams, I mean I I play, I came in in ninety four and we were all training camp, right, we went to with the red skins, we went to Carlisle. Yeah, and you know, it was just a great experience being with the guys for four weeks. But then now a lot of teams, as we went, said we're just going to have it our facility. Right. Why spend the money for college and moving all of our equipment and wait room and everything else and when we have it all right here and we can just practice our facility? But I think it took away from the fans because you couldn't just let the fans in the facility and and see the guys and be a part of it. So I agree with you. It's kind of taken a little bit away and I think the steelers will probably be the last ones to not go somewhere. I agree. Okay,...

...no, obviously you've written a book. We probably love to read books. Okay, are you going to pick a paperback or hard back or digital? Ah Well, I would probably what I do most is audio, you know, listen to the book while I'm walking the dog. That's a good one. So that's that's actually I get through most of the books that I want to read. But I would pick a hard back. If it's a you know, it's because it's, you know, it's sort of a better version of the book and everything now are you still a paper guy? You still get the paper or you all like I don't, I get everything, everything digital. See, my wife, we still get papers here because she has to have the physical paper, open it up and read it all. So I think we're, though, one of the only ones on the block. We got to introduce your wife, my mother. She she's been going out in Covid at eighty eight years old to buy the paper. We're going crazy telling her she can, but she needs the The New York Times every morning she wants to read it and we're like, we'll just get it delivered and she's like, wow, it's a day late if I get it delivered, and I you know, but she loves the newspaper. Yeah, some people do all right. Last one, it's a just straight Pittsburgh Fan nutstealers. Okay, give me your favorite penguin and your favorite pirate. Mario is my favorite penguin, without a doubt my favorite pirate. You know, Love Willie Stargel, but you know I love Matt Lock Back in the day. Go Mad yeah, he was great. Bill madlock. I've been trying to get him on the show. Oh, in box them and he's like, well, I have to check with my PR person. I'm like, you got a PR person? He's doing all right, then? Yeah, he's doing okay. But Hey, Jim, thanks for joining us in a huddle it was great. I'll let you know when the episode airs. And you know, thank you so much again for joining us on huddle up with Gus. Absolutely guess. Thank you, and everyone, don't forget. Go find a different way to win. And and you know, you can listen to it, you can read it on your iphone or, you know, on your computer, or you can just buy the hardback cover. So, Jim, thanks again. Thanks, guys, take care. You take it off. Yep, thank you. Thanks. We get to talk to you. Yeah, no, it was sometime. When this is all over, maybe we go have a drink or go golf. And you golf. I'm a horrible Golfer, but that's all right. and run. You ever played diamond run? Yeah, yeah, I'm remember at the Field Club. Okay, I live on the sixteen. Told diamond run and you just watch, you don't you don't go out that much, not too much. I'm on. I'm on diamond run every day. I got a giant dog and I'm always walking around. What kind of dog. You Bernie's mountain dog? Oh yeah, it's you're great. I have a French mastiff, Turner, huge. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, this is second one. We got one for the kids and we liked it so much. There's no kids, but we got a puppy two years ago, my wife and I. Oh yeah, that's great. There there're a lot of fun their great dogs, great dogs. Billy Garant I was always had. You know, if you know billy from the penguins, our kids went to school together. We would walk our burners together. Yeah, he's always had burn it. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, Billy's Jake. Have you heard from UP IN MINNESOTA? Yeah, I interviewed them two weeks ago. Oh good, yeah, he do. He was in his apartment in Minnesota up and the guy, you know, everything's closed down for them. So it's been kind of strange. There you are in new GM and you're running his team and then everything just he says, was kind of strange. Yeah, but it's the same way for everyone, so he's not alone in it. Hey, we want to thank you for joining us today on huddle up with guests, where we talked to a wide range of the guests about how sports shape to life. As always, I'm joined by my great friend and cohst Dave Hagar, and we want you to be able to follow us on all of our social media at...

...huddle up with Gust and we really appreciate you and thank you for your time and listening to our podcast.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (167)