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Buddy Parker, Art Rooney Jr. Named Hall of Fame Semifinalists



Pro Football Hall of Fame

Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Buddy Parker and personnel director Art Rooney Jr. have been nominated as semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 by the Hall’s 12-person coach and contributor committee, it announced on Wednesday.

Parker was the Steelers head coach from 1957-64, compiling a 51-47-6 record, but failing to reach the postseason in his eight seasons. He had greater success earlier in his career, as both a player and a coach. He won an NFL title as a fullback, linebacker and defensive back with the Detroit Lions as a rookie in 1935. His playing career ended in 1943, and he got started in coaching in 1949 with a one-year stint as co-coach of the Chicago Cardinals.

Parker had his greatest success back with the Lions, when he went 47-23-2 in six seasons, wining two NFL titles and playing in a third championship game. Parker is one of two former NFL coaches to win multiple championships and not be enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Parker retired from football after being fired by the Steelers in 1964. He died following complications from surgery in 1982.

Buddy Parker

Parker’s time in Pittsburgh was known for a distaste for young players and continuously trading draft picks, a stark contrast to his fellow semifinalist.

The son of founder Art Rooney, Art Rooney Jr. took over as personnel director in 1965, immediately after Parker was fired. He changed the team’s strategy to one that would build through the NFL Draft, something that has continued to the present day.

When head coach Chuck Noll was hired in 1969, he and Rooney put together the foundation of the team’s four Super Bowl championship teams by building through the draft. Nine Rooney draft picks went on to become Pro Football Hall of Famers, along with Noll, general manager and president Dan Rooney and scout Bill Nunn.

The case for Rooney is one that is simple. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers beat writer Vito Stellino, who covered the team in the 1970s, argued for his case.

“Art Rooney Jr. presided over the best drafting run in NFL history in a six-year span from 1969 to 1974,” Stellino wrote. “He was in charge of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ scouting department when they drafted nine Hall of Famers and signed a tenth as an undrafted free agent.They started with five Hall of Famers from 1969 to 1972 – Joe Greene in 1969, Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount in 1970, Jack Ham in 1971 and Franco Harris in 1972. Then they added five of them in 1974, four draft picks and free-agent Donnie Shell. No team has ever had a drafting run like that.”

Rooney was fired as personnel director in 1987, but has retained the title of vice president and is a minority owner of the team. He was inducted into the Steelers Hall of Honor in 2018.

There were a total of 29 semifinalists that advanced to the next round of consideration. The committee will send 12 of those 29 to the finalist stage. The results of that cut-down will be announced on July 27. Of those 12, one coach or contributor will be selected to the Class of 2023 on Aug. 15.

No Steelers were selected as part of the seniors committee’s list of 31 semifinalists.