Why Obama Loves the Steelers

Posted: Feb 02, 2009 9:09 AM
I heard President Obama was rooting for the Steelers but I didn’t know he’d have such a major part of the pre-game extravaganza until I turned on the TV last night. Matt Lauer cleverly asked questions like: “Can you say that a substantial number of [U.S. troops] will be home in time for next Superbowl Sunday?”

Obama may truly be a Pittsburgh fan but it seems he had little choice after Steelers owner Dan Rooney endorsed and campaigned for him during 2008. Lifelong Republican Rooney crossed party lines to stump for Obama and even penned a letter of endorsement to Pennsylvanians, referencing his belief in the “underdog” (which Obama was at the time.)

And while the White House Superbowl Party reportedly hosted a bipartisan spread of politicos, including 11 Democrats and four Republicans, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin immediately thanked the President. I’m not sure what Obama had to do with the Steelers winning their sixth Superbowl, but Tomlin is only the second African-American head coach to attain such a victory so perhaps he felt a bond with Obama’s monumental achievement as the first African American president.

According to sportswriter Steve Mason, Rooney is the namesake for the “Rooney Rule”, an affirmative-action like policy that requires NFL teams to interview minority jobseekers for coaching positions. Some say this has helped in upping the ratio of minority coaches – including Tomlin.

Tomlin has affirmed the Rooney rule helped him but noted that he “thought that eventually I'd get an opportunity, Rooney Rule or not."

Former Raiders coach Art Shell, the  “first, modern black NFL head coach”, according to ESPN, recently said that Tomlin “wouldn't have gotten this opportunity without this rule.” But, does Tomlin really want to credit his success to something other than his own dedication and hard work? I’m sure that no one, including President Obama, wants affirmative action to get praise, for making them who they are today.

Either way, Obama’s team won -- with their AFC Championship game ball (which was apparently presented to him after the Steelers beat the Ravens) sat safely inside the White House.

And oh yeah, I’m pumped that the Steelers won!