A Sporting Life

Rob Ruck, Maggie Jones Patterson, and Michael P. Weber

704 pages
43 illustrations, 1 genealogy


April 2010


$44.95 Add to Cart

September 2011


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2010


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

Author Bio

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.


Rooney: A Sporting Life is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about a true American success story in sports. This book fully captures the early life of Art ‘the Chief’ Rooney Sr., an American icon who is known for the legacy he left in the Steelers but isn’t known as well for his amazing accomplishments in racing and as an athlete. The Chief is to sports what Seabiscuit is to horse racing, and this book captures the man and the legend.”—John Clayton, ESPN

"Filled with incredible details, Rooney gets behind the man and the legend who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933."—

"One of the best books on football written so far this century. . . . Assiduously researched, Rooney is more than a biography."—Allen Barra, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"An authoritative look at one of the most iconic figures in the history of the NFL, Rooney, A Sporting Life, is both a critical chapter in the story of football in the United States and a thoroughly engaging, in-depth introduction to a character unlike any other in the annals of American sports."—Pennsylvania Heritage

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations   000

Introduction      000

Arthur J. Rooney’s Family Tree      000

1. Coming to Pittsburgh 000

2. The Young Athlete: The Northside 000

3. On Life's Learning Fields: 1922<EN>28  000

4. Dreams, Depression, and Commitment: 1929<EN>33     000

5. Pittsburgh Joins the <SC>nfl</SC>: 1933<EN>36      000

6. Rooney's Ride: 1937  000

7. Between the Races and the Fights: 1937<EN>38 000

8. Returning to the Ring: 1939<EN>41      000

9. Season of Reckoning: 1940<EN>41  000

10. The World at War: 1941<EN>45    000

11. The Sutherland Years: 1946<EN>47      000

12. Shamrock Farm 000

13. Same Old Steelers: 1948<EN>56   000

14. Buddy, Bobby, and Bert: 1957<EN>59    000

15. Renaissance for Pittsburgh, Not the Steelers: 1960<EN>64      000

16. Not the Same Old Steelers--Worse: 1965<EN>68      000

17. Changing History: 1970<EN>71    000

18. 1972    000

19. Football's Promised Land: 1973<EN>74  000

20. Super Redux: 1975   000

21. City of Champions: 1976<EN>79   000

22. The Fourth Quarter: 1980<EN>88  000

Notes 000

Bibliography      000

Index       000

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