|Chuck Noll served most notably as the
head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League
from 1969 to 1991. Noll has
more Super Bowl wins (4) than any other head coach in NFL history,
and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Noll attended Benedictine High School where
he played running back and tackle, winning All-State honors. He won
a football scholarship to the University of Dayton. Noll was drafted
by the Cleveland Browns in 1953, where he played until his retirement
in 1959 at the age of 27.
Chuck Noll was an assistant coach for the San Diego Chargers and
the Baltimore Colts before becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers head
He was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Colts (under
head coach Don Shula) during their 13–1 season in 1968, in
which the team set an NFL record of fewest points allowed (144).
The 1968 Colts won the NFL championship by stomping the Cleveland
Browns 34–0 in Cleveland, but the heavily favored Colts were
shocked by the upstart AFL champion New York Jets, 16–7,
in Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Noll was named the 14th head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers
on January 27, 1969, after Penn State coach Joe Paterno turned
down an offer for the position. Noll implemented a defensive system
in Pittsburgh that became the legendary "Steel
His coaching style earned him the nickname of Chaz The Emperor
by sports announcer Myron Cope. Noll is the only head coach
to win four Super Bowls, coaching the Steelers to victory in Super
Bowl IX (1975), Super Bowl X (1976), Super
Bowl XIII (1979), and
Super Bowl XIV (1980).
The key to Noll's coaching success during this unprecedented run
was the Steelers' skill in selecting outstanding players in the
NFL college player draft. Noll's first round one pick was Joe
a defensive tackle from North Texas State, who went on to become
a perennial All-Pro and anchor the defensive line. During the next
few years, the Steelers drafted quarterback Terry
Tech) and running back Franco Harris (Penn State) as round one
picks. In the 1974 draft, Noll and the Steelers achieved a level
of drafting success never seen before or since, when they selected
four future Hall of Fame players with their first five picks: wide
receivers Lynn Swann and John
Stallworth, middle linebacker Jack
Lambert, and center Mike Webster. To this day, no other draft by
any team has included more than two future Hall of Famers, including
the Steelers themselves in 1970. (Quarterback Terry Bradshaw and
cornerback Mel Blount.)
A very meticulous coach, Noll was well-known to coach players
on basic fundamentals in practice, such as the three-point stance,
that players were already expected to know. For instance, Andy
Russell, already a Pro Bowl linebacker before Noll arrived and
one of the few players Noll kept after purging the roster his first
year, was told by Noll that he didn't have his feet positioned
right. Russell went on to become a key member for the first
two Super Bowl teams and started the linebacker tradition that
continues today in Pittsburgh as a result of Noll's attention to
While most of his contemporaries (as well as current NFL head
coaches) enforced strict curfew rules on its players, Noll was
very lax on off-the-field behavior. This was shown at Super
Bowl IX. While Noll's counterpart--Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud
Grant--strictly kept his team in their hotel rooms except for practice
before the game, Noll told his team upon arriving in New Orleans
to go out on Bourbon Street "and get the partying out of your
system now." It can be argued that Noll allowing his players
to go out while in New Orleans helped them be more relaxed when
they played the Vikings and won 16-6.
The hallmark of the team during the 1970s was a stifling defense
known as the Steel Curtain, loaded with All-Pros. The starting
11 (linemen L. C. Greenwood, Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes (later Steve
Furness), Dwight White, linebackers Jack
Ham, Jack Lambert, Andy
Russell (later Loren Toews), defensive backs Mel Blount, J.T. Thomas,
and safeties Glen Edwards (later Donnie Shell) and Mike Wagner
had a collective level of talent unseen before in the NFL.
The teams that won Super Bowls IX and X used a run-oriented offense,
primarily featuring Franco Harris and blocking back Rocky Bleier.
Over the next few years, Terry Bradshaw matured into an outstanding
passer, and the teams that won Super Bowls XIII and XIV fully utilized
the receiving tandem of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
Noll was never a coach who sought a lot of media attention, and
his 1970s teams were so talented that his contributions as head
coach (and architect of the team) often were overlooked.
In 1989, Noll finally achieved some recognition as NFL Coach of
the Year, when he guided the Steelers into the second round of
the playoffs. The team was not especially talented, and lost its
first two regular season games by scores of 51–0 and 41–10.
However, Noll did a remarkable job in keeping the team focused
and steadily improving its play, as they made the playoffs and
played competitively in two playoff games.
Chuck Noll retired as Steelers head coach in 1991 with a record
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Noll still has a residence in suburban Pittsburgh. However, he
spends most of his time at his home in Florida. His mobility has
been limited by chronic back problems. Noll holds the ceremonial
title of Administration Adviser in the Pittsburgh Steelers' front
office, but has had no real role in the team's operations since
his retirement. He spends about half the year in Pittsburgh, with
his devoted wife Marianne. They have a son named Chris who is a
teacher in a private high school in Connecticut.