The talk about an NFL game taking place in Ireland has really died down over the last few months. It was reported back in December of last year that the NFL sent a delegation to inspect Croke Park in Ireland as a possible place to play a game.
US Ambassador to Ireland and Pittsburgh Steelers president Dan Rooney is of course a prime player in this game taking place in Ireland, and reportedly the delegation was happy with what they saw during their visit there. While the game in Ireland will not take place in 2012, Rooney is still hopeful that one will in the future and he still hopes that the Steelers can be one of the two teams to play in that game.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Rooney was asked again about a potential game taking place in Ireland.
Rooney was asked how much he would like to bring a game to Ireland. “I think it would be terrific. We did come over here in 1995 and played a preseason game,” said Rooney. “And now, especially over in London where they have the league games, and that has proven very, very successful. If fact, that game sells out almost as soon as they put the tickets up.” Rooney continued, “I think it would be good playing a game here. They have a great stadium in Croke Park and the interest here in sports, as it is in England, is quite strong. So I think it would be a good thing to have a game here. And as I say, we\’ve played in a lot of places, the Steelers were one of the teams that they did try to get in the series called the American Bowl. We played in Tokyo, Montreal, just all over, and it\’s always been great.”
Rooney was next asked what it would take to bring a game to Croke Park in Ireland. “Well, strangely enough, the commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell, he\’s Irish. So we\’ve talked about it and he said that he thought that there\’d be a time we can do it,” said Rooney. “Now this year with so many things happening with the Olympics going to be over in London and many of the things that\’s happening, that this probably wouldn\’t have been the year to do it. But I think some time soon it would be good and I think the Commissioner would be interested in working something out. As I say, we also could play a game in Europe somewhere. London, Germany and places like that that I think would be a top thing.”
The interview wrapped up with Rooney being asked if the Steelers would be playing in that game if it takes place. “I would like to see the Steelers involved, and as I say, if it could be worked out by the league, we would enjoy doing it,” said Rooney.
To wrap all of this up, it seems that no new progress has been made. The Olympics this year combined with NFL lockout last year likely killed the game from happening in 2012. Will it take place in 2013 and will it be a regular season game? It is really hard to say at this time. Should the Steelers wind up being able to play a regular season game at Croke Park, or anywhere overseas for that matter, they likely would have to do so as the visiting team because of their lease agreement with Heinz Field.
Rooney is expected to step down soon as the US Ambassador to Ireland, but no time frame has been established as to when that will take place. His intentions are to be more active with the Steelers whenever that does happen. Rooney will get a visit from Ben Roethlisberger any day now, as the quarterback is expected to start his golf vacation in Ireland and Scotland by having breakfast Rooney.