´ Steel Curtain Rising: Rooney Brothers Met with Druckenmiller Before Goodell; Attempting and End Around?

What position(s) should be the Steelers highest priorities in the draft?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rooney Brothers Met with Druckenmiller Before Goodell; Attempting and End Around?

The Post-Gazette reported on Friday that the four Rooney brothers met with New York billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller on Monday, the day before meeting with their brother Dan and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Druckenmiller is attempting to take control of the Steelers by buying out the four Rooney brother’s collective 64 percent of the Steelers.

The meeting’s purpose was to hammer out the details of his offer, and the report indicated that the deal could be closed in “a week or two.”

Analysis

This is an interesting development. None of the Rooney brothers spoke with the press following their meeting with Roger Goodell, instead designating Goodell to speak in their place.

While Goodell was short on specifics, his message was clear:

The NFL prefers that Dan and Art II remain in control of the team.

He also offered that the meeting helped everyone understand the situation. Some reports had Goodell saying that the Rooney brothers weren’t necessarily intent on selling to the highest bidder (presumably Druckenmiller), but that they did want a fair price for their shares in the team.

Goodell also offered his opinion that the situation could be resolved in a few months, by the end of the year, leading one to think that the situation favored Dan and Art II keeping the team.

In that light, the news that the four Rooney boys had met with Druckenmiller the day before meeting at NFL headquarters qualifies as a minor bombshell.

Clearly, Art Jr., Tim, John, and Pat Rooney are giving Druckenmiller’s offer serious consideration.

Unknowns

The Post-Gazette article by Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette cited no sources whatsoever, leaving the reader to guess who is supplying the information.

Did Dan, Art II, and Goodell know about this meeting? Were the other four Rooney’s going behind their brother’s back? Or were they simply trying to clarify Druckenmiller’s offer before the meeting with Goodell?

We don’t know.

Tuesday’s article in the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review made it clear that the Rooney boys weren’t too sure about why they were going to New York, and implied that they were not thrilled with traveling to the Big Apple.

The Rooney brothers certainly had to know in advance that Goodell called the meeting to express support for Dan Rooney.

How much did Goodell lean on them? How did they react?

2 + 2 isn’t Quite Equaling Four

This story will make you dizzier that a nighttime trip down Glassrun road. At one moment it seems like Dan and Art II have the upper hand, the next moment Druckenmiller snatches the spotlight. One article talks of a family feud, the next plays down familial tensions.

Most likely, this is no accident.

From the very outset, there’s been a marked difference between the stories emanating out of New York and those coming out of Pittsburgh. The sources for the ones coming out of New York indicate that Druckenmiller has the upper hand, the ones based on Pittsbrugh sources present a more complex picture.

Consider this, when the story first broke, Druckenmiller’s intermediaries told us that the deal could close in “a few weeks.” Early July is not eons ago, but its more than a few weeks.

Rooney boys didn’t meet with Druckenmiller for tea, but one must be a little skeptical at the latest report that the deal could close in “a week or two.”

If that is the case, then why is John Rooney still retaining his seat on the Steelers Board of Directors? Why has Art Jr. sold out his shares in the racetracks – a move that would allow him to continue as an owner? Why did Ed Bouchette’s article explicitly suggest (again, without linking it directly to sources) that Art Jr. or John might still want to hold on to part of the team?

None of these facts negates the possibility of a sale to Druckenmiller closing in a fortnight, but they also fail to reveal an immediate readiness to cash in with the billionaire.

Working the Media

Druckenmiller knows how to work the media.

Word gets out that he wants to buy the team. Steeler’s Nation panics, so Druckenmiller makes his passion clear for the Steelers. The public gets wind that he paints his face and swigs Iron City at Heniz field. Reporters ponder whether he’s the next Daniel Snyder, and Druckenmiller friends are in the paper a few days latter saying, “oh, he only did that once…. Just to get his daughter into the spirit of things.” Goodell announces that's he's to meet with the five Rooney brothers, and Druckenmiller goes public quickly thereafter, again speaking through third parties, reaffirming that his offer was still on the table, and extolling its virtues to both the Rooney brothers and the franchise.

This latest revelation follows a similar pattern.

Its impossible to know what the real intentions of the four Rooney brothers are because there is so much conflicting information.

Druckenmiller’s intentions are clear. He wants the team. Part of his strategy is to create an aura of inevitability about his acquisition of the team through his contacts with the press.

Time will reveal which set of sources are closer to the truth… will the revelation arrive in a few weeks or a couple of months?

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