By Susan Falvella Garraty
The Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers might also be Ireland bound for a regular 2011-2012 regular season game. That’s the word from the huddle after the team’s championship win over the New York Jets last weekend.
The clincher for a Steelers appearance would likely be Dan Rooney, whose family own the franchise and who is himself the current U.S. Ambassador in Dublin.
And the Echo has learned that some groundwork has already been laid for a regular season game at the GAA headquarters which has a seating capacity in excess of 80,000.
A spokeswoman for Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mary Hanafin, told the Echo Tuesday that discussions have already been held at the official level on the potential of a NFL regular season game being played in Ireland in the fall.
“Minister Mary Hanafin would very much welcome such a move to hold a future NFL game in Ireland, which has such a proud sporting tradition. There would be a great welcome for visiting fans traveling with the teams to Ireland as well as huge interest locally, and a knock on boost for Ireland from a tourism perspective,” the spokeswoman said.
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At the end of Sunday’s game against the Jets, Ambassador Rooney held aloft the Lamar Hunt trophy Rooney, who left the day to day running of the team to his son Art Rooney II in 2003, has overseen the development of a team that is now tied with the Dallas Cowboys for most Super Bowl appearances.
Of course the team has seen its share of notoriety, particularly from its quarterback, “Big” Ben Roethlisberger, who has had his own personal fumbles that include a serious motorcycle accident, and suspension this season for his behavior in a bar with a young woman.
Perhaps hearing a whisper on the Three Rivers wind, Roethlisberger recently said he would like to bring a regular NFL game to the Emerald Isle
For the last four years, the NFL has played a regular season game in London. Last October, it was the San Francisco against the Denver Broncos in Wembley Stadium. Roethlisberger was asked by the local Beaver County Times newspaper if he’d like to see the Steelers play in London.
In his response he groused a bit about the length of the flight, but came up with a way to go overseas and shorten the time in the air just a bit.
“I think it would be fun to go play in Ireland where Ambassador Rooney is. That would be kind of fun,” he said.
Big Ben’s suggestion has clearly been taken literally and to heart in Dublin where big college football games have been played before enthusiastic crowds in recent years.
Perhaps the Ireland game could be a replay against the Jets, a team that thinks green all year round.