Chuck Noll turned the Pittsburgh Steelers from a pathetic franchise into a four-time Super Bowl winner during his 23 year coaching career. He passed away Friday evening surrounded by his loved ones at the age of 82.He had suffered from Alzheimers and heart disease in recent years.
Before being hired, the Steelers had 16 coaches in their 37 year history and little success. They had just five winning seasons before Noll was hired and never won a Division title or a Conference title. Noll began his career slowly as Pittsburgh was 1-13 in his first season, but in 1970 they drafted Terry Bradshaw and in 1972 they added Franco Harris laying the groundwork for a dynasty.
“I had a great amount of fear for him,” Bradshaw told CNN on Saturday. “He’s kind of like a father from whom you want approval and you don’t quite get it. I’m proud to have played for him. It was a great honor.”
Noll was excellent at spotting talent and drafting, something that was absolutely vital to their success and laid the foundation for a dynasty during the 1970’s when they won four SB’s (Noll is the only head coach to achieve ths feat). He built the defense and it was excellent and during his time there in the 1970’s commonly referred to as the Steel Curtain.
He led Pittsburgh to a 209-156-1 record (56.6%) from 1969-1991, being replaced by Bill Cowher. He made the playoffs 12 times and had a 16-8 record (66.6%) in the postseason. He won nine AFC Central Division titles and decided to retire in 1991 after missing the playoffs in five of his last six seasons as head coach.
A few of my favorite Noll quotes are:
The key to a winning season is focusing on one opponent at a time. Winning one week at a time. Never look back and never look ahead.
A life of frustration is inevitable for any coach whose main enjoyment is winning.
He was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Tiny URL for this post: