On March 31, two days after returning from a historic NFL owners meeting in Arizona (for several reasons), NFL commissioner Roger Goodell flew to Pittsburgh to see the ailing Steelers owner, Dan Rooney. Goodell feared what he might see. Rooney, 84 and seriously ill, was now in a rehabilitation facility with major back problems and an undisclosed ailment. Goodell hadn’t seen him since Super Bowl Sunday in Houston.
When Goodell opened the door to Rooney’s room, Rooney was in bed, too weak to get up and greet him. A slim man already, Rooney had lost weight. But when he saw Goodell, Rooney smiled broadly.
“Commissioner,” Rooney said.
Goodell didn’t want to get emotional just then. It was difficult. “I flashed back,” Goodell said Sunday afternoon. “It was exactly the same thing he’d said to me once before.”
Eerily, it was. Same word, same smile too, as on a hot day in August 2006, in a