On Friday, June 13, 2014, the National Football League lost a legend. Specifically, the entire city of Pittsburgh, PA, and Steelers fans all over (aka Steelers Nation) lost a hero Legendary Coach Chuck Noll passed away from an undisclosed illness at his Sewickley, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh) home. Chuck Noll coached the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1969-91. He led the team to 4 Super Bowl victories. Noll leaves behind his wife Marianne, their son Chris, and legions of Steelers Nation members such as myself. Noll was 82.
[adinserter block=”1″]Chuck Noll was born in Cleveland, OH on January 5, 1932. He played running back and tackle Benedictine High School. He became such a good player, that he received all-state honors. This earned him a scholarship at the University of Dayton. At the University of Dayton, he was a tackle and linebacker. He would be eventually drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1953, where he played under Coach Paul Brown. Noll would eventually retire as a player at the age of 28 to start a coaching career.
Noll was going to accept a coaching job at the University of Dayton, but Sid Gillman hired him to be an assistant coach with the Chargers, and the Chargers won five AFL Western Division Champions in the six seasons that Noll was with the team. Chuck Noll went on to be the defensive coordinator under Coach Don Shula for the Baltimore Colts in 1968. The Colts had a 13-1 record, and in the infamous Super Bowl III, lost to the upstart AFL New York Jets, led by Joe Namath, 16-7. On January 27, 1969, Chuck Noll was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as head coach for a hapless franchise.
The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a real change. The team was a mess. It had a long history of being a losing franchise. Even “Mean” Joe Greene was mad he was drafted by them. Who could blame him? Would you want to be on a team that only won 18 games in five years? I wouldn’t. Chuck Noll was not a magician, at first. The team went 1-13 in 1969, which was his first year. In the 1970 season, Noll’s Steelers went to 5-9. In 1971, the record was 6-8. The Steelers made the playoffs in 1972, and defeated the (Oakland fans skip over) Oakland Raiders via the “Immaculate Reception.”
However, there was one (of many) great qualities that Noll had, and it was the ability to build a team through the draft, and to judge talent. The aforementioned Greene was drafted in 1969. QB Terry Bradshaw (2x SB MVP, 4X SB Champ), was drafted in 1970. Who can forget arguably the best single draft by a team? I am referring to the 1974 class. The team got WR Lynn Swann, LB Jack Lambert, WR John Stallworth, and C Mike Webster. Chuck Noll just knew talent. All six of these men not only have four rings, but are all Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees. There are others, such as LB Jack Ham (1971 Draft), and Mel Blount (1970) but eventually, Noll would turn the Steelers into a powerhouse, which would happen two years after the “Immaculate Reception” victory.
Chuck Noll was also great at allowing his team to be themselves, Many guys had their own personalities, especially Terry Bradshaw. They butted heads quite a bit. Noll was also described as a teacher. His teams were tough, and when it was game time, the opponents better be ready. Those Steelers teams, especially that “Steel Curtain,” were like hungry dogs wanting a steak. On the other hand, Noll would have his entire team trained in the proper technique. Noll emphasized things like the 3 point stance. He called his teaching, “the how to.” He wanted his players to know how to block, and how to run, etc. He wasn’t into the shaking hands after the game bit either. Actually, one time, he confronted then Oilers coach Jerry Glanville after a game, because Noll thought Glanville’s players tried to hurt the Steelers players.
Of course, Chuck Noll’s legacy as a head coach speaks for itself. He was head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 23 years. His 70s Steelers is one of sports’ greatest dynasties. The Steelers, under Chuck Noll won the Super Bowl in the 1974 season (d. Minnesota Vikings), the 1975 season (d. Dallas Cowboys), the 1978 Season (d. Dallas Cowboys), and the 1979 season (d. L.A Rams). Chuck Noll is still the only head coach who has won four Lombardi Trophies. Chuck Noll is still the only head coach to win four Lombardi Trophies in six years. He retired with a 209-156-1 record. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot. What a career.
[adinserter block=”2″]As a long time Steelers fan, my heart aches. From August, 1986 to about November, 1987, I attended Carnegie-Mellon University on Forbes Avenue, in Pittsburgh, PA. I was on a violin scholarship at the College of Fine Arts at the University. I had to leave due to personal reasons. Anyway, I had never been to Three Rivers Stadium. As a college student, I couldn’t afford to attend a game. I had seen it. However, I thought it was awesome just to be in the same city as one of the greatest teams ever, even if they hadn’t won a Super Bowl in some time. I really regret not trying to get a ticket. I had seen Coach Noll on TV, back in New Jersey (provided they were on TV, but they did show the Super Bowl, and the playoffs). It would have been neat just to be in the same building.
I just want to say that Chuck Noll will never be forgotten. He will go down in history as one of the best coaches ever. I don’t think his feat of winning 4 Super Bowls in six years will ever be touched. I am so grateful that the Steelers hired him, and that Chuck Noll turned a hapless franchise into a powerhouse, and a beloved franchise.
Thank you Coach Noll.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan
strong>NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com