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A Sporting Life

Rob Ruck

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 04/2010
Pages: 704
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9780803267992


Born to an Irish Catholic working-class family on the Northside of Pittsburgh, Art Rooney (1901–88) dabbled in semipro baseball and boxing before discovering that his real talent lay not in playing sports but in promoting them. Though he was at the center of boxing, baseball, and racing in Pittsburgh and beyond, Rooney is best remembered for his contribution to the NFL, in particular to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team he founded in 1933.   As Rooney led the team in the early years, he came to be known as football’s greatest loser; his influence, however, was instrumental in making the NFL the best-run league in American pro sports. The authors show how Rooney saw professional football—and the Steelers—through the Depression, World War II, the ascension of TV, and the development of the NFL. The book also follows him through the Steelers’ dynasty years under Rooney’s sons, with four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s alone.   The first authoritative look at one of the most iconic figures in the history of the NFL, this book is both a critical chapter in the story of football in America and a thoroughly engaging in-depth introduction to a character unlike any other in the annals of American sports.


Rob Ruck is a senior lecturer of history at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of The Tropic of Baseball, available in a Bison Books edition. Maggie Jones Patterson is an associate professor of journalism at Duquesne University and coauthor of Behind the Lines: Case Studies in Investigative Reporting. Michael P. Weber (1936–2001) is the author of Don’t Call Me Boss: David L. Lawrence, Pittsburgh’s Renaissance Mayor.