RIP Dan Rooney

Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers,  died yesterday at the age of 84.  He was a quiet but highly influential leader among the owners in the NFL.  The “Rooney Rule” is only a small part of his legacy.

Rest in peace, Dan Rooney.

Russell Westbrook broke the NBA record for most triple doubles in a season.  That record had been held by Oscar Robertson for decades upon decades.  That record had often made the list of “Sports Records That Will Never Be Broken”.  Congratulations to Russell Westbrook; he achieved something that a lot of folks thought would never be done; he deserves nothing but accolades for his season-long achievement.

At the same time, Westbrook’s breaking that long-standing barrier proves that any athletic accomplishment by one of the “all-time greats” in a sport can possibly be overtaken if the right “future-time all-time great” comes along.  Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in an NBA game; no one has done that for decades-upon-decades; however, the record is not literally unbreakable.  The same goes for these records that surely look to be well outside the realm of potential danger – – but you never know:

  1. Cy Young:  Everyone knows that he won 511 MLB games – the most in history and that record is likely beyond the reach of any pitcher in today’s game.  I do not want to focus on that record; I prefer to focus on the fact that Cy Young completed 749 MLB games.  Given the way today’s MLB is managed, it is extraordinary when a pitcher has double-digit complete games in a season.  James Shields had 11 complete games in the AL in 2011; the time before that in the AL was in 1998.  Randy Johnson was the last pitcher in the NL to throw more than 10 complete games in a season; he had 12 complete games in 1999.  Even if a modern day pitcher were to average 15 complete games in a season, he would need to pitch for almost 50 seasons to equal Cy Young’s record.  Not impossible – – but as Arte Johnson might intone – – “highly unlikely!”
  2. Grover Cleveland Alexander:  He threw 16 shutouts in a single season in 1916.  Given modern MLB management, that record looks to be safe for a long time to come – in addition to the fact that it has stood for a century already.  In the NL, Bob Gibson threw 13 shutouts in 1967 – 50 years ago.  Since then, only one NL pitcher has reached double digits in shutouts; that was John Tudor with 10 shutouts in 1985.  In the AL, only 2 pitchers since 1947 have had double-digit shutouts; Dean Chance had 11 in 1963 and Jim Palmer threw 10 in 1975.  That record is not impossible to overcome – – but it is unlikely.
  3. Byron Nelson:  Back in the 1940s, he won 11 consecutive PGA tournaments.  Given the depth of the competent golfers on the PGA Tour these days, that record is going to be hard to reach – – let alone break.
  4. Boston Celtics:  They once won 8 consecutive NBA Championships.  In this time of free agency, that record will be monstrously difficult to break.
  5. Oklahoma University:  In the 1950s under the tutelage of Bud Wilkinson, the Sooners won 47 consecutive football games.  Today the NCAA imposes scholarship limitations that allow for top talent to spread out to more than a few schools.  That situation makes this record difficult to reach.

I have pointed out before that there is one sports record that CANNOT possibly be broken.  It can be equaled or tied but will never be broken unless there is a fundamental change in the rules.  Here is THE unbreakable record:

  • In January 1991, the Giants beat the Bills in the Super Bowl by a score of 20-19.  That is not only the smallest margin of victory in a Super Bowl game to date; it is the smallest POSSIBLE margin of victory in a Super Bowl game because the rules for that game do not allow for a tie game.  Down the line, two teams might match this record but they cannot break it without a change in the rules to allow for tie games or a change in the scoring rules to allow fractional points.

Let me stay with an NFL theme here for another moment.  The City of St. Louis has filed suit against the NFL, the Rams franchise and against the 57 owners/partial owners of NFL franchises individually seeking about $1B from the defendants for moving the Rams from St. Louis to LA.   I am not going to pretend to be able to explain the totality of the meaning of these allegations, but here is what the plaintiff claims:

  1. Breach of contract,
  2. Unjust enrichment,
  3. Fraudulent misrepresentation (against the Rams and owner Stan Kroenke) and
  4. Tortious interference with business expectancy.

According to my understanding of the reports on this legal action, the charge of “unjust enrichment” is backed by data from Forbes saying that the Rams – now in LA – are worth about $1.2B more than they were when they were in St. Louis.

I have no idea how Forbes makes these sorts of determinations but if the plaintiff says this is a critical analysis – and if I am on the jury at this trial – I would not think this strengthened the plaintiff’s case even a little bit.  If moving to LA added $1.2B to the value of the team, then the owner would have to have been dumber than oatmeal to leave the team in St. Louis; if that is the factor that makes the team more valuable, then the plaintiff has proven that indeed the team should have moved.  In fact, it shows that the team should have moved at least several years before it did.


[The preceding commentary is why no attorney worth his/her billable hours should ever allow me to be on a jury at one of their trials.  The entire process of voir dire is in place to keep people like me off juries.]


Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“The Florida Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr turned 45 Wednesday, joining Hall of Famers Gordie Howe and Chris Chelios as the only ones to play in an NHL game at that age.

“Teammates showered him afterward with Molsons and Metamucil.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “RIP Dan Rooney”

  1. Hey Jack, What gives? You forgot our fellow Italian-American’s 56 game hitting streak.

    1. TC LaTorre:

      I was not trying to make an exhaustive list. Yes, Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak has stood the test of time – 65 years and counting – without a serious assault on its stature. Nevertheless, it may some day fall to someone else much the way The Big O’s record fell during this NBA season.

    1. Jim:

      Indeed, Secretariat’s margin of victory in the Belmont has not been approached over the past 35 years.

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