Most of them are gone now, the grand old names from the NFL’s storied past — Halas, Marshall, Rosenbloom, Murchison — the men who presided over professional football teams when they were the equivalent of mom-and-pop operations, as opposed to the tycoons now running billion-dollar mega-team enterprises all around the league.
Art Rooney was among the grandest names of all. They called him ”The Chief,” and it is said the money he earned on a big score on a parlay of long shots at the Saratoga race track enabled him to put down the $2,500 franchise fee required to become a charter member of the NFL in 1933.
Rooney’s team was called the Pittsburgh Pirates because that was his favorite baseball team growing up, and the name was changed to Steelers in 1941. For many years, they were loveable losers. Then a bunch of future Hall of Famers were drafted in the late 1960s and early `70s and went on to win four Super Bowls under coach Chuck Noll.