Chuck Noll died on Friday, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most prolific coaches in NFL history.
The former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and Hall of Famer died Friday night at his home in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, close to Pittsburgh.
He was known for shaping the Steelers dynasty, taking over the team in 1969 and building it through both the draft and astute player development. At the time he took over, the Steelers were coming off a 2-11-1 season and had never reached a championship since their founding in 1933.
Noll’s first season was not spectacular — in fact, the team won only one game. But Noll assembled one of the toughest teams of all time, known for their aggressive and hard-hitting defense. They would go on to win four Super Bowl titles, in 1975, ’76, ’79, and ’80.
Noll would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
After he died on Friday, Chuck Noll was remembered as the man who built a dynasty.
“I think winning this last Super Bowl should put us in a special category,” Mel Blount, the Steelers’ star defensive back, told The New York Times. “This is probably the best team ever assembled. They talk about the Vince Lombardi era, but I think the Chuck Noll era is even greater.”
Noll also shaped other legacies. He coached Tony Dungy and later took him on as an assistant coach.
Dungy said Noll’s brilliance was immediately evident.
“I can remember the first meeting I was ever in as a rookie player, and after 20 minutes feeling like I know what it takes to win a Super Bowl,” Dungy told USA Today in 2012.
Chuck Noll was also responsible for shaping the careers of several Hall of Famers, including defensive tackle Mean Joe Greene.
He also drafted quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running back Franco Harris in 1972, wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, middle linebacker Jack Lambert and center Mike Webster in 1974. All would go on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Noll thought of himself as a teacher first, working with even top draft picks on proper techniques.
“He would teach new draft choices who were All-American guards how to get in a stance,” linebacker Andy Russell once told ESPN. “In his first year, we won our first game and lost 13 in a row. He said: ‘We will get worse before we get better because I’m going to force you to play the right way.’ ”
Chuck Noll ended up coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers for 23 seasons, compiling a 209-156-1 record.