Last night the National Football League announced the passing of legendary head coach Chuck Noll. He was 82 years old.
Noll, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers for 23 years, had been dealing with health issues––including chronic back problems and alzheimer’s disease––for some time before finally losing his battle and passing away in his sleep at his Sewickley, Pennsylvania home. His cause of death has been ruled as natural causes.
Noll played his college ball at the University of Dayton before being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 20th round of the 1953 draft. He played guard and linebacker for the Browns for five seasons (1953-59) before retiring as a player at the age of 27. Starting in 1960, Noll became the Defensive Line Coach for the Chargers (1960-61), moving up to become the team’s Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs coach from 1962-65. He was the Baltimore Colts Defensive Coordinator during their run to Super Bowl III, though the heavily-favored Colts were upset by Joe Namath’s New York Jets in what is still perhaps known as the biggest upset in NFL history.
Chuck landed his first––and only––head coaching gig in 1969, taking over for Bill Austin as the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his three seasons at the helm of Pittsburgh’s struggling franchise, Austin accumulated an 11-28-3 record, including a 2-11-1 record in ’68. Noll’s first season with the Steelers was a disaster, as the team posted a 1-13 record. But Noll, thanks to several great drafts in the early 1970s, slowly turned the franchise around.
Noll built a dynasty, and from 1972-1979 the Steelers made eight consecutive postseason appearances, which included four Super Bowl titles. Over his 23 seasons with Pittsburgh, Noll’s Steelers made it to the playoffs 12 times (16-8 PS record). Including the playoffs, the legendary Noll posted a 209-154-1 all-time record and his four titles still sits as the most of any head coach in NFL history.
Here’s a quick list of the Hall of Fame players that Noll is responsible for drafting during his head coaching career:
1969––DT Joe Greene (1st round)
1970––QB Terry Bradshaw (1st round), CB Mel Blount (3rd round)
1971––LB Jack Ham (2nd round)
1972––RB Franco Harris (1st round)
1974––WR Lynn Swann (1st round), LB Jack Lambert (2nd round), WR John Stallworth (4th round), C Mike Webster (5th round)
1987––CB Rod Woodson (1st round)
1988––C Dermontti Dawson (2nd round)
Two years following his 1991 retirement from the sidelines, the legendary head coach was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Rest in peace, Chuck Noll.