WASHINGTON -- Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
The nomination was approved by voice vote.
Rooney was a lifelong Republican who backed President Barack Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton during Pennsylvania's presidential primary last year. He later campaigned for Obama in western Pennsylvania and helped him win the state in November.
In the 1970s, he helped found the American Ireland Fund, an organization that has raised millions for advocacy of peace and education in Ireland.
Rooney's father, Arthur J. Rooney, founded the Steelers in 1933. The son took over the presidency of the team in 1975 and is a Hall of Fame owner. His Steelers won the Super Bowl this year.
The "Rooney Rule," which requires any team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate, was developed by an NFL committee Rooney chaired. Rooney has also participated in labor negotiations between the league and players.