Chuck Noll and the Steelers

Chuck Noll's letter to the UK

Chuck Noll's Career Stats

Chuck Noll in College

The Steelers Decades Index

UK Black & Gold



Reproduced from the 1970 October 3rd edition of Pro!

When 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.

The momentary 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.

Pittsburgh 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 won-lost columns.

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.

Baltimore compiled 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.