Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney dies at 84

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PITTSBURGH, Penn. (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, one of the NFL's most influential and popular executives, has died. He was 84.

Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said Rooney died Thursday. No further details were immediately available.

Rooney took over operation of the team in the 1960s from his father, Art, who founded the franchise. From there, Dan Rooney oversaw NFL championships for a team that had never even played in an NFL title game.

He was a powerful force within the league. He helped develop the Rooney Rule under which NFL teams are required to interview minority candidates for coaching and front-office positions. He was a key figure in labor negotiations and league expansion.

He made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and also served as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009-2012.

The Green Bay Packers organization released a statement on his passing Thursday afternoon:

“The Green Bay Packers are very saddened to hear of the passing of Dan Rooney,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “It’s a great loss for the National Football League and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t think any owner had a bigger impact on the modern NFL than Dan. He was always the voice of reason, had tremendous respect for players and looked out for the interest of our fans.

“Our sincerest condolences go out to the Rooney family and the Steelers organization.”