Danny is listed as vice-president of the club, but in recent years he has assumed the duties of general manager more and more until now he actually runs the team. It was Dan, really, who precipitated the Steelers' sudden leap into the present. It began a little more than a year ago when Buddy Parker, a longtime friend of Art's, was still coaching the team. Parker was a shy, moody man, who reacted violently to losses. He had left the Detroit Lions in 1957, after taking the club to three championships, on a sudden whim at the annual preseason team banquet. When it came Parker's turn to speak he shocked the audience by saying, "I can no longer control this team. I quit."
Before the 1965 season opened, Parker had told Art Rooney that he wanted to trade Ben McGee or Chuck Hinton, top defensive linemen, for King Hill, the No. 2 Philadelphia quarterback. "Why weaken the defensive line for a second-string quarterback?" Rooney asked, reasonably enough. "But I don't interfere with coaches. Go ahead and do whatever you think is best for the team."
Parker had second thoughts about what probably would have been a bad trade. But a couple of weeks later the Steelers lost a preseason game to San Francisco, and Parker, obviously upset, approached Dan Rooney in the late hours of the night. He suggested another trade—a lineman and a draft choice for a linebacker.
"Let's wait until morning before we decide," Dan said.
"Does that mean you doubt my ability?" Parker asked him.
"No," Danny said. "I just don't believe in making trades in the middle of the night after a loss."
The next morning Parker called Dan. "I don't think I can handle this team any longer," he said.
"I don't think so, either," said Dan, ending an era of Pittsburgh football with one short sentence.
Mike Nixon, one of Parker's assistants, took charge of the team for the rest of the year, a disastrous one in which the Steelers won only two games.
"Let's try something new," Dan suggested to his father as the season ended. "This time let's hire someone we don't know."