Gene Collier is an award-winning columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has written about sports, politics, and social issues at newspapers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for the past twenty-eight years.
Based on the journal writings of Art Rooney Jr., with input from other family members, colleagues, and friends, The Chief is a one-man play that faithfully reenacts the larger-than-life persona of Pittsburgh icon Art Rooney, owner of one of the most successful football franchises of all time. Playwrights Gene Collier and Rob Zellers recreate the words, deeds, and essence of this paragon of Pittsburgh sports as he reminisces, in his gruff but affable style, about his tough upbringing on Pittsburgh’s North Side and the family, friends, politicians, and outlandish adventures that shaped his life. He also recounts the colorful history of the Pittsburgh Steelers, from the foibles and frustrations of the early days to the great Super Bowl runs of the 1970s, and offers insights on the characters of many of his beloved players. Reproduced in print for the first time, the work is complemented by photographs of Rooney, his family, and members of the Steelers, along with scenes from the standout performance of actor Tom Atkins, who has embodied the role since the play’s inception.