Pittsburgh Steelers icon Chuck Noll, the only coach to win four Super Bowls, died at his Pittsburgh-area home Friday night. He was 82.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner said Noll died of natural causes at 9:45 p.m. ET.
Noll went 209-156-1, including the postseason, while coaching the Steelers from 1969-91. The hiring of Noll, a one-time assistant coach to Sid Gillman and Don Shula, set the Steelers on a path to greatness.
He led the team to four Super Bowl titles from 1975-80, and he became every bit as revered in Pittsburgh as stalwarts from those teams such as “Mean” Joe Greene and Franco Harris.
“Chuck Noll is the best thing to happen to the Rooneys since they got on the boat in Ireland,” Art Rooney Jr., the oldest son of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr., said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Noll was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, less than two years after he retired.
Noll had battled health problems in recent years while splitting time between Sewickley, which is in suburban Pittsburgh, and Florida. The Steelers still listed him prominently in their staff directory as an administration adviser even when he was in ill health and not working for the team.
“He was not a pizzazz guy,” Rooney Jr. said, according to the Tribune-Review. “He knew where he was, where he was going and where he wanted to go and how to do it. He had a very, very strong moral compass. … My dad respected that.”
Noll is the second towering figure from the Steelers’ dynasty in the 1970s to die in the past month.
Longtime scout Bill Nunn, who opened a pipeline to historically black colleges and helped the Steelers assemble top talent that turned them from also-rans into champions, died on May 6 at the age of 89 of complications from a stroke.
Noll receded from the public eye following his retirement in 1991. His name still resonates in the Pittsburgh area and far beyond the hills of Western Pennsylvania.
The football field at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, where the Steelers have held training camp since 1966, is named after Noll.
A street near Heinz Field, which opened a decade after Noll called it a career, is also named after the coach who Steelers chairman Dan Rooney once said deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of George Halas, Curley Lambeau and Tom Landry.
Noll had been the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Colts before the Steelers made him the youngest head coach in NFL history at the age of 34. They first offered the job to Joe Paterno, who opted to stay at Penn State, before hiring Noll in 1969.
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