Sunday 22 April 2018

The Rooneys and Maras: the Irish-American royalty of NFL

Rooney Mara (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Rooney Mara (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The Rooneys are American Football royalty with a story only matched by one other family. Dan Rooney's father Art bought the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1932, a year before he was born.

In the decades since the Rooney family built up a strong personal and professional relationship with another Irish American family, the Maras who owned the New York Giants. Despite being rivals on the pitch it is said the relationship between Art and Tim shaped the Steelers, Giants and the NFL.

Their sons, Dan and Wellington, would continue those ties and in time the families would become more intrinsically linked.

Dan's niece Kathleen married Tim's grandson Chris and they had two very famous daughters.

Rooney Mara, who received an Oscar nomination for playing Lisabeth Slander in 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', is the former Ambassador to Ireland's great-grandniece. Her sister Kate is also well-known for her role as Zoe Barnes in the Netflix drama 'House of Cards'.

The legacy of the Rooneys and Maras in NFL terms is summed up by the fact there are only two father-son pairs to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The first were Tim and Wellington. The second were Art and Dan.

Wellington's son John, the current president of the Giants, described Dan Rooney as "one of the greatest owners in all of professional sports".

"More than that he was a great friend who was a man of principle and a role model for any of us privileged to be a part of the NFL. He leaves a legacy on our sport that will last for generations."

Dan's son Arthur, who is president of the Steelers, said: "My father meant so much to all of us, and so much to so many past and present members of the Steelers organisation. He gave his heart and soul to the Steelers, the National Football League and the city of Pittsburgh."

Irish Independent

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