Chuck Noll was a no-nonsense coach, and his Pittsburgh Steelers followed his lead to win four Super Bowls.
Noll, who died Friday of natural causes at 82, wasn’t an entertainer or a charmer when it came to football. He was a winner, the only man to coach four Super Bowl champions, building a dynasty in Pittsburgh for a franchise that hadn’t won an NFL title before he arrived in 1969.
"When Chuck became our head coach he brought a change to the whole culture of the organization," Steelers President Art Rooney said Saturday. "Even in his first season when we won only one game, there was a different feel to the team. He set a new standard for the Steelers that still is the foundation of what we do and who we are. From the players to the coaches to the front office down to the ball boys, he taught us all what it took to be a winner."
Noll was a sharp strategist, brilliant evaluator of personnel and strong motivator.
"He was the glue," said former linebacker Jack Ham, a Hall of Famer like Noll — and so many members of those Steelers teams. "He was the guy that got all of us to buy into how to win a championship. He took the lead.
"Preparation. He always felt you don’t win games on Sunday at 1 p.m., you win games in your preparation on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at practice. I think we all bought into that."
While Noll’s success on the sideline — a 209-156-1 record in 23 seasons — defined him professionally, football did not dominate his existence. He insisted that everyone around him have hobbies and enjoy life away from the field.
Noll was a licensed pilot who flew himself and assistant coaches on scouting trips. He was a wine connoisseur and enjoyed cooking. He had a passion for jazz.
"He stressed that you couldn’t get burned out from football, couldn’t let football be everything in your life," Tony Dungy said. "He made sure we got away from the game."
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