Take it away, Post Gazette:
An emotional Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was uncharacteristically at a loss for words yesterday as an introduction from Steelers owner Dan Rooney stirred memories of a bright interlude in a painful time.
On a campaign stop at Greensburg Salem High School, the presence of the Steelers owner reminded the vice presidential candidate of the tragic Dec. 17, 1972, car accident that killed his first wife and daughter and seriously injured two young sons. Mr. Biden had just been elected to the Senate.
Mr. Biden paused, wiped his eyes and, at one point turned away from the crowd for a long moment. Talking of his long vigil at his sons’ bedsides, he said he left the boys at some point to go out and buy a Christmas tree for their hospital room. When he returned they each had an autographed football.
“My one little boy was in traction, the other little boy had a serious fractured skull, and they were happy. …” After pausing, and wiping his eye, he continued.
“I said, ‘Guys, where’d you get the balls?’
“They said, ‘Daddy, Rocky Bleier brought it for me.’
“Mr. Rooney’s Dad, without any fanfare, without an announcement, without anything but this incredible decency. …” He paused again, and as the crowd applauded, said, “I really apologize. I shouldn’t have tried to do this. … It’s a hell of a family.”
I love when people hate on the Steelers, the Rooneys and anything Steeler-related simply because we’ve had an enormous amount of success. But there’s so much more to the Steelers family and organization that we never hear about unless a veep nominee recounts a horrible tragedy and touching stories like this come to light.
In a way, I’m honored to follow and write about an organization like this, but in another sense, I’m not surprised in the least. It seems that there are a never ending list of stories like this, where the front office or players have used their status as representatives of the city and organization to help those in need. Only after the world finally hears about these acts of kindness do others realize that the Steelers are more than a football team.