Chuck Noll coached the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers to Super Bowl victories in IX, X, XIII, and XIV.
|Born:||January 5, 1932|
|Birthplace:||Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
|Died:||June 13, 2014(aged 82)|
|Deathplace:||Sewickly, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|NFL Draft||1953 / Round: 20 / Pick: 239|
|NFL Supplemental Draft||/ Pick:|
|Overall Record and Win Pct. (%)||209-156-1 (Including Postseason) (.571)|
|Postseason Record and Win Pct. (%)||16-8 (.667)|
|Regular Season Record & Win Pct (%)||193-148-1 (.564)|
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
|Coaching stats at pro-football-reference.com|
|Stats at DatabaseFootball.com|
|Career highlights and awards|
Charles Henry "Chuck" Noll (born January 5, 1932-died June 13, 2014) was a former professional American football player and coach, and a member of the Sid Gillman coaching tree. He served most notably as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League from 1969 to 1991. Noll has more Super Bowl wins (4) than any other head coach in NFL history, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Noll attended Benedictine High School where he played running back and tackle, winning All-State honors. He won a football scholarship to the University of Dayton. Noll was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1953, where he played until his retirement in 1959 at the age of 27.
Coaching career[edit | edit source]
Assistant coaching career[edit | edit source]
Noll was an assistant coach for the American Football League's San Diego Chargers and the NFL Baltimore Colts before becoming the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach. He was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Colts (under head coach Don Shula) during their 13–1 season in 1968, in which the team set an NFL record of fewest points allowed (144). The 1968 Colts won the NFL championship by stomping the Cleveland Browns 34–0 in Cleveland, but the heavily favored Colts were shocked by the upstart AFL champion New York Jets, 16–7, in Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Pittsburgh Steelers[edit | edit source]
Noll was named the 14th head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 27, 1969, after Penn State coach Joe Paterno turned down an offer for the position. Noll implemented a defensive system in Pittsburgh that became the legendary "Steel Curtain" defense. His coaching style earned him the nickname of The Emperor Chaz by sports announcer Myron Cope. Noll is the only head coach to win four Super Bowls, coaching the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl IX (1975), X (1976), XIII (1979), and XIV (1980).
The key to Noll's coaching success during this unprecedented run was the Steelers' skill in selecting outstanding players in the NFL college player draft. Noll's first round one pick was Joe Greene, a defensive tackle from North Texas State, who went on to become a perennial All-Pro and anchor the defensive line. During the next few years, the Steelers drafted quarterback Terry Bradshaw (Louisiana Tech) and running back Franco Harris (Penn State) as round one picks. In the 1974 draft, Noll and the Steelers achieved a level of drafting success never seen before or since, when they selected four future Hall of Fame players with their first five picks: wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, middle linebacker Jack Lambert, and center Mike Webster. To this day, no other draft by any team has included more than two future Hall of Famers, including the Steelers themselves in 1970 with quarterback Terry Bradshaw and cornerback Mel Blount.
A very meticulous coach, Noll was well-known to coach players on basic fundamentals in practice, such as the three-point stance, that players were already expected to know. For instance, Andy Russell, already a Pro Bowl linebacker before Noll arrived and one of the few players Noll kept after purging the roster his first year, was told by Noll that he didn't have his feet positioned right. Russell went on to become a key member for the first two Super Bowl teams and started the linebacker tradition that continues today in Pittsburgh as a result of Noll's attention to detail.
While most of his contemporaries (as well as current NFL head coaches) enforced strict curfew rules on its players, Noll was very lax on off-the-field behavior. This was shown at Super Bowl IX. While Noll's counterpart--Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant--strictly kept his team in their hotel rooms except for practice before the game, Noll told his team upon arriving in New Orleans to go out on Bourbon Street "and get the partying out of your system now." It can be argued that Noll allowing his players to go out while in New Orleans helped them be more relaxed when they played the Vikings and won 16-6.
The hallmark of the team during the 1970s was a stifling defense known as the Steel Curtain, loaded with All-Pros. The starting 11 (linemen L. C. Greenwood, Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes (later Steve Furness), Dwight White, linebackers Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell (later Loren Toews), defensive backs Mel Blount, J.T. Thomas, and safeties Glen Edwards (later Donnie Shell) and Mike Wagner had a collective level of talent unseen before in the NFL.
The teams that won Super Bowls IX and X used a run-oriented offense, primarily featuring Franco Harris and blocking back Rocky Bleier. Over the next few years, Terry Bradshaw matured into an outstanding passer, and the teams that won Super Bowls XIII and XIV fully utilized the receiving tandem of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
Noll was never a coach who sought a lot of media attention, and his 1970s teams were so talented that his contributions as head coach (and architect of the team) often were overlooked.
In 1989, Noll finally achieved some recognition as NFL Coach of the Year, when he guided the Steelers into the second round of the playoffs. The team was not especially talented, and lost its first two regular season games by scores of 51–0 and 41–10. However, Noll did a remarkable job in keeping the team focused and steadily improving its play, as they made the playoffs and played competitively in two playoff games.
Post-coaching life[edit | edit source]
Noll retired as Steelers head coach in 1991 with a record of 209–156–1. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Noll still has a residence in suburban Pittsburgh. However, he spends most of his time at his home in Florida. His mobility has been limited by chronic back problems. Noll holds the ceremonial title of Administration Adviser in the Pittsburgh Steelers' front office, but has had no real role in the team's operations since his retirement. He spends about half the year in Pittsburgh, with his wife Marianne. They have a son named Chris who is a teacher in a private high school in Connecticut.
Noll died of natural causes in his suburban Pittsburgh condo on June 13, 2014, having suffered for years from Alzheimer's disease, a heart condition and back problems. Noll's funeral was held on June 17, 2014 at St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
Noll's legacy included providing opportunities for African Americans. Under Noll, Joe Gilliam became the league's first African American starting quarterback, just a few seasons after the AFL started Marlin Briscoe and James Harris (Gilliam started ahead of Terry Bradshaw briefly during the 1974 season). In 1975, Franco Harris became the first African American to win the Super Bowl MVP award. During the 1980s, Tony Dungy (who briefly played under Noll in the late 1970s) got his start as an NFL assistant coach, initially as the Steelers' Defensive Backs Coach and later the first African-American Coordinator in the NFL. Noll strongly promoted Dungy as a well-qualified head coaching candidate, but it did not happen with the Steelers when Noll retired after the 1991 season. However, Dungy did become head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl (XLI) with the Indianapolis Colts.
On August 2, 2007, the field at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania was dedicated and renamed Chuck Noll Field in honor of the former coach. For more than 40 years the Steelers have held their summer camp at St. Vincent College, as it was Noll's idea to take the team away from the distractions in the city to prepare for the season each year.
Chuck Noll was honored on October 7, 2007 at Heinz Field during the pre-game ceremonies.
On September 30,2011, Pittsburgh honored Noll by naming a new street after him. Chuck Noll Way connects North Shore Drive to West General Robinson St. The street runs along Stage AE, on the North Shore of Pittsburgh.
Career record[edit | edit source]
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|PIT||1969||1||13||0||.071||4th in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1970||5||9||0||.357||3rd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1971||6||8||0||.429||2nd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1972||11||3||0||.786||1st in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost 17-21 vs. Miami Dolphins|
|PIT||1973||10||4||0||.714||2nd in AFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost 14-33 @ Oakland Raiders|
|PIT||1974||10||3||1||.769||1st in AFC Central||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl IX Champions|
|PIT||1975||12||2||0||.857||1st in AFC Central||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl X Champions|
|PIT||1976||10||4||0||.714||1st in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost 7-24 @ Oakland Raiders|
|PIT||1977||9||5||0||.643||1st in AFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost 21-34 @ Denver Broncos|
|PIT||1978||14||2||0||.875||1st in AFC Central||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl XIII Champions|
|PIT||1979||12||4||0||.750||1st in AFC Central||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl XIV Champions|
|PIT||1980||9||7||0||.563||3rd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1981||8||8||0||.500||2nd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1982||6||3||0||.667||2nd in AFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost 28-31 vs. San Diego Chargers|
|PIT||1983||10||6||0||.625||1st in AFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost 10-38 @ Los Angeles Raiders|
|PIT||1984||9||7||0||.563||1st in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost 28-45 @ Miami Dolphins|
|PIT||1985||7||9||0||.438||2nd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1986||6||10||0||.375||3rd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1987||8||7||0||.533||3rd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1988||5||11||0||.313||4th in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1989||9||7||0||.563||2nd in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost 23-24 @ Denver Broncos|
|PIT||1990||9||7||0||.563||3rd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
|PIT||1991||7||9||0||.438||2nd in AFC Central||-||-||-||-|
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Pasquarelli, Len. "Cowher not universally adored in hometown", ESPN.com, 2007-01-06. Retrieved on 2008-07-04.
- America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions. The 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers
- The lessons of Chuck Noll
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- Noll Funeral Arrangements. Tribune Review (June 14, 2014). Retrieved on August 24, 2014.
- Chuck Noll Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com
[edit | edit source]
- Pro Football Hall of Fame: Member profile