from the 1970 October 3rd edition of Pro!
the Pittsburgh Steelers hired Chuck Noll as head coach 21 months
ago, owner Art Rooney received this wire from Sid Gillman of the
San Diego Chargers: "Congratulations on your choice of Chuck Noll.
He's a future coach of the year."
It was a fitting
tribute and not idle words from a man who long had recognised
Noll's ability, first as a player and later much closer as a coach.
Gillman was boss of the Chargers at the time and Noll had been
one of his assistants. In fact, when Gillman first went about
putting together his team in the forming of the American Football
League in 1960 he hired Noll as a defensive assistant. It was
a good break for both men.
Noll had retired
from the Browns after the 1959 season at the still tender age
of 27. Despite the promise of years more as a player, Noll yearned
to coach. An assistant's job beckoned at his alma mater, the University
of Dayton, and he went after it. Unfortunately for Dayton and
luckily for Noll, the job went to someone else.
disappointment changed the course of his life and now here he is,
10 years later, leading the Steelers into an exciting new era of
pro football. It's no coincidence, either, that the Steelers and
their fans suddenly see the bright promise of success in the near
future after seemingly endless years of little but disappointment.
has had its moments, but never so much as a division title in
the life of a franchise extending back to 1933. Noll has helped
bring a new vitality and confidence to a team and city much in
need of both. Not even the cold figures of last vear's I and 13
record could blot out that fact.
Noll never did
claim to be a miracle worker and it would have taken just about that
to accomplish much more that first season. A major overhaul and considerable
new blood was a necessity before results would start to show in the
The Chargers won
five division titles and one league championship in the six years
Noll was associated with them. Don Shula then hired him as defensive
backfield coach at Baltimore in 1966 and three years later the Colts
were in the Super Bowl.
a 33-7-2 record the years Noll worked there and in 1968 the Colts'
defense gave up only 144 points, easily the best mark in the league.
Noll's contribution was considerable.
Rooney hired Noll
for the troubled Steelers only two days before the 1969 draft. But
it came about only after a thorough exchange of attitudes by Noll,
Rooney and the latter's son, Dan. "The Rooneys convinced me that they
had only one goal - a winner - and they're willing to pay the price
to produce one," said Noll.
So he plunged in
and immediately shocked everyone by drafting big Joe Green from North
Texas State in the first round as a cornerstone for the Steelers'
defensive line. This year Noll went for Terry Bradshaw and now Pittsburgh
has two fine young quarterbacks, although Terry Hanratty from a year
ago undoubtedly doesn't relish being relegated to No. 2.
In any event the
Steelers finally seem on the way up. More than a little improvement
will be noted this season and and a year or two from now should find
them strong division contenders.
Noll spent seven
years with the Browns, first as one of Paul Brown's "messenger" guards
and later as a linebacker. He learned his lessons well and now at
the age of 38 he's one of the younger head coaches in pro ball. Cleveland
fans join those from Pittsburgh in wishing him well.