THE NATION suffered its most astonishing economic meltdown since the Great Depression last week, so perhaps it wasn't surprising to see a hedge-fund manager pull back on a $550 million investment. Yet when Stanley Druckenmiller, 55, founder of Duquesne Capital Management, took himself out of the running to buy a majority interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday, his decision had little to do with the economy and a lot to do with the brothers Rooney.
Each of the late Art Rooney Sr.'s five sons—including his eldest, Dan, 76, the team's chairman—owns 16% of the franchise that cost Art $2,500 to found in 1933 and that is now worth between $800 million and $1.2 billion, according to Goldman Sachs. But that ownership structure has become problematic: The family owns racetracks in Florida and New York that have installed poker tables and slot machines, respectively, putting the Rooneys in violation of the NFL's gambling policy; the league also wants at least one owner of each team to hold at least a 30% share, an edict the Steelers are violating; and the brothers have begun worrying about inheritance taxes their descendants could pay.
To that end, four of the brothers (all except Dan, who hopes to become the principal owner) approached Druckenmiller, a passionate Steelers fan, last February about purchasing their 64% share. Druckenmiller made an offer in August, and last Thursday the Rooneys turned it down. Druckenmiller then withdrew without making a counteroffer. "It has become clear that the Rooneys need substantial additional time to assess their options," he said in a statement.
While the NFL has not set a hard deadline for the Rooneys, the family knows it must come into compliance. A league without the Rooneys running the Steelers is not something the tradition-minded NFL savors. Still, rules are sacred in the NFL, so though a new principal owner has not yet emerged, there are likely to be fewer Rooneys in the league's future.
The Pop Culture Grid
How do sports stars fit in?
I always ___before I go to bed
Name of my first pet
Season premiere I waited for all summer
All the women I'm attracted to have ...
Person I'm dying to get into the ring with
NOMAR GARCIAPARRA Dodgers SS
Kiss my girls goodnight
I'm going to leave that one alone
Chuck Liddell (top)
MICHAEL TURNER Falcons RB
Wash my face and brush my teeth
Buster (golden retriever)
I Love Money
NICK RIMANDO Real Salt Lake G
Kiss my wife and baby boy
Style, little makeup and great legs
Jennifer Love Hewitt (left)
CORTLAND FINNEGAN Titans CB
Say my prayers
A good personality
Consecutive losing seasons by the Pirates, tying them with the 1933--48 Phillies for the longest streak in any major professional sport.
NFL players who have run for four TDs and passed for another in a game: Paddy Driscoll of the Cardinals in 1923 and the Dolphins' Ronnie Brown on Sunday.
Teams that have had four infielders hit 25 home runs: the Marlins have 1B Mike Jacobs (32), SS Hanley Ramirez (32), 2B Dan Uggla (31) and 3B Jorge Cantu (29).
Consecutive 200-hit seasons by the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki, tying the major league record set by Wee Willie Keeler from 1894 to 1901.
Games coached by John Gagliardi of Saint John's in Collegeville, Minn., breaking Eddie Robinson's NCAA football mark.
Touchdown passes thrown by Terrelle Pryor in Ohio State's win over Troy last Saturday; Pryor was the first true freshman to start at QB for the Buckeyes since 1978.
Wins by Kyle Busch on the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series, the most ever in all three major circuits in one season.
Incompletions, in 88 pass attempts, by Missouri's Chase Daniel in his last three games; Daniel completed a Big 12--record 20 straight against Buffalo last Saturday.
ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES (FAN)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS PHOTO (ROONEYS)
MEN OF STEEL Art Rooney Sr. (seated) left a legacy to his sons, from left, Art Jr., Patrick, Tim, John and Dan, shown in the '70s.
JOHN PYLE/CAL SPORT MEDIA (LIDDELL)
DUSTIN SNIPES/ICON SPORTS MEDIA (GARCIAPARRA)
MARVIN GENTRY/US PRESSWIRE (TURNER)
DOUG HYUN/HBO (ENTOURAGE)
NICK WASS/AP (RIMANDO)
GETTY IMAGES (FINNEGAN)
CLAIRE BOURGEOIS (CAT)
JEAN-PAUL AUSSENARD/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (HEWITT)