Steelers Throwback Thursday: Coach Chuck Noll inducted into the Hall of Fame

Steel City Underground takes fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times and players in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Steelers Throwback Thursday” series.

On July 31, 1993 Chuck Noll – considered by many to be the best head coach the Pittsburgh Steelers organization asked to lead their team – was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach. We look back on that day, and his words made immortal when he passed away in June of 2014.

Chuck Noll Pro Football Hall of Fame

It’s hard to believe, but even with the Steelers’ most recent Super Bowl triumph seemingly a distant memory back in 2008, at one time things were worse. Much worse. But here’s a shoutout to long-suffering Steelers bettors who have diligently backed Pittsburgh to regain the Super Bowl over the last decade and a bit, only to be disappointed. (Thankfully, Pennsylvania sportsbooks give out lots of bonuses to ease the effects of these losses!)

When Charles Henry “Chuck” Noll, a native of Cleveland (OH), was hired to coach the Steelers in 1969, Pittsburgh had struggled to field a winning team. In fact, prior to his hiring, the Steelers had put just eight winning seasons into the NFL history books and had yet to win a Super Bowl in the National Football League.

Noll, who’d played football at Dayton before joining the Cleveland Browns professionally, began coaching in the league in 1960 for the (then) Los Angeles Chargers (defensive line), before moving with the team to San Diego (1962-65) as the defensive coordinator and backfield coach. In 1966, Noll took that same position with the (then) Baltimore Colts.

Noll, a defense-oriented coach – similar to Mike Tomlin who became head coach of the Steelers in 2007 – became known as “The Emperor” for his no-nonsense style of leadership. Noll lead the Steelers to four Super Bowl Championships.

Noll was instrumental in creating the “Steel Curtain” defense and became immortalized when he was given the gold jacket as a member of the Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 1993.

“There are many other good coaches over the history of the NFL, but I think Chuck Noll ranks up there with (George Halas and Vince Lombardi) right at the top.” – Daniel M. Rooney (1932-2017)

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Noll was known for being tough, but fair, as a coach. His high expectations sometimes found him in conflict personality-wise with some of his players, but he was respected.

“Chuck was just the ultimate leader… He had truth and belief in what he was saying, and over time all of those things he said were validated, the things about winning football games and being a solid citizen.’ – Joe Greene (Hall of Fame defensive lineman and Noll’s first-ever draft pick)

At his induction speech, Noll refected on his time with the Steelers.

“The single most important thing we had in the Steelers of the 1970s was an ability to work together,” he stated. “Right now you hear about teamwork and it’s defined as 50-50, and that is a falsehood. There’s no such thing as 50-50. You do whatever you have to do as part of the team. You may have to carry somebody. I can’t tell you how much you gain, how much progress you can make, by working together as a team, by  another.”

Noll earned his place among football’s greats and, on his passing, Steelers Nation mourned the loss. Noll’s career, and influence, as head coach in Pittsburgh will live on forever in the hearts of Steelers and NFL fans.


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