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With John as president and Pat lending a hand, the Rooneys founded the Philadelphia Spartans, a National Professional Soccer League team. The Spartans, says John, "once played to 400 people in the L.A. Coliseum, and 300 of them were ushers." The team lost $500,000 the first year and the Rooneys disbanded it.
At least one man who has been close to the family for some time thinks that Pat is the twin with the most spark. Certainly Pat comes closest of all the brothers to making a pointed remark about Art Sr.'s view of life. "My father just doesn't understand that when some people wake up in the morning and look at their face in the mirror, it's not the greatest thing in the world," Pat says. "He thinks being a good Catholic takes care of all that." Artie, on the other hand, says of Franco Harris' miraculous playoff catch against Oakland, "That wasn't good scouting. It wasn't good playing. It was my father's 72 years of good Christian living."
The man who fancies Pat's spark thinks he will become more dominant in the family as the years go on. Does that mean dissension looms? Nobody sees signs of it. The Rooneys seem to have resolved their hostilities toward one another in furniture-smashing fights when they were boys. As adults they talk to each other on the phone nearly every day, slip away from convention sessions to drink milk shakes together, accept their various positions in the empire and follow the Steelers.
"If there is ever any trouble among the brothers it will come through the wives," says one observer. But the Rooneys are not uxorious. They have a reputation as staunch and faithful family men (Art has four children, John and Tim five, Pat six and Dan nine), but at Steeler home games the wives sit together on the other side of the field from the men's box, so that the brothers won't have to entertain women's questions.
Pat is doubtless right, as his mother, Kathleen Rooney, was before him, when he says none of the sons is the man his father was. Partly this is a matter of different times. The boys have had at least two exploits that do much credit to the old-time Rooney image but which they have kept out of the public eye because the public eye isn't what it used to be. And Pat—whose father appears to love sportswriters as much as they love him—keeps his own name out of Continental press releases because when it gets in the paper his family gets crank calls.
No one man is ever again likely to develop as many different ground-floor sports connections as Art Sr. "It's amazing the depth of his contacts," says Harness Tracks of America President Ed Dougherty. "I asked him once whether Kelso was a late bloomer. He said he would like to buy Kelso but the trainer was going to run him one more time before the owner made up her mind whether she wanted to sell the horse. So he did, and Kelso won by 10 lengths. And Mrs. duPont wasn't interested in selling anymore. That is like asking a guy something about Manhattan, and he says, 'Yeah, you know I ran into those Indians and offered them $23....' "
None of the young Rooneys will ever enjoy the geographical unities of their father's life. Art Sr. once nearly drowned when Squawker Mullen overturned a canoe in the middle of flooded Exposition Park, which stood on the site of Three Rivers Stadium, where the Steelers play now. But the boys have advanced beyond their father in necessary ways. "He's a brilliant man," says Dougherty. "But he's a man of the handshake. He finds the transition to tax lawyers and comptrollers uncomfortable."
So far, with their father behind them and with the help of an expert Philadelphia lawyer-loan arranger named John T. Macartney, who is secretary-treasurer of the Yonkers corporation, the brothers are making the transition with a looseness that Johnny Blood might appreciate.
"They can be agonizing in their casualness in coming to meetings late or leaving early or not accepting what the meeting is for," says Dougherty. "Like the Yale band, they like to march out of step. But they do it in a way that's probably as disciplined as the Yale band."
It is a simple matter—the Rooney brothers exhibit the natural, inevitable discipline and tempo of the sons of any authoritarian, democratic-to-a-fault, gambling, pious, two-fisted father who kept peace in his heart despite missing out on Kelso and Johnny Unitas. The boys may not become legends, but it is no small achievement these days to owe $60 million without forgetting who you are.