Chuck Noll, the former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach of 23 seasons, died on Friday night in his home in Sewickley, Pa. He was 82 years old. His son, Chris, confirmed that the causes of his death were Alzheimer’s disease along with heart and back problems.
Noll was born in Cleveland, Ohio on Jan. 5, 1932. He was an All-American running back and tackle at Benedictine High School and his talents earned him a football scholarship to the University of Dayton. Following college, Noll played for the Cleveland Browns from 1953 until 1959 and helped them win two National Football League Championships.
After his playing career, Noll became the defensive line coach and defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League. The Chargers advanced to five AFL Championship Games, winning one in 1963.
In 1966, he became the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Colts. During the Colts unbelievable 1968 season, Noll’s defense finished first in points allowed and second in total yards allowed. Baltimore won 13 regular season games and two playoff games en route to Super Bowl III, where they lost to Joe Namath and the underdog Jets.
The following year, Pittsburgh Steelers Owner, Art Rooney, hired Noll. During his first season as head coach, he cleaned house with most of the Steelers roster and drafted Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood. Over the years, Noll drafted Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth.
Chuck Noll, along with his draft picks, built a dynasty during the 70s. After Pittsburgh went 12-30 during his first three seasons, Noll led the Steelers to seven division titles and four Super Bowl Championships. They went from being one of the league’s worst teams of four decades to the most dominant team of one decade.
When the 80s arrived, the Steelers were nothing close to what they were previously. Pittsburgh made the playoffs only four times and reached the AFC Championship Game just once. Noll retired from coaching in 1991 and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Football Fans, particularly Pittsburgh Steelers fans, will look back at the life of Chuck Noll and tell themselves that they saw the greatest coach in NFL history. To the men who played for him, they will look back and say that he was a man who cared about success and providing opportunities to those who wanted to show him what they can do on the football field. Noll will be truly missed, but who he was and what he did are memories that will never be forgotten.