Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Noll Was Remarkable

Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships examines the football lives of the top ten coaches in NFL history.  One of the ten coaches is Chuck Noll who died a few days ago.  In researching Pillars, there were no full biographies that we could find of Coach Noll.   We did look at biographies and books on people who were close to Noll such as Ruanaidh: The Story of Art Rooney and His Clan and Dan Rooney: My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL.  Film clips and comments by Noll's players and others involved in the team helped.  Newspaper and magazine articles helped fill in some important elements. Although we were well into the project when ESPN started publishing its Greatest Coaches in NFL History posts and program, those too were helpful.  In all, we have some 38 end notes on sources that were used.  Jim O'Brien's book, Chuck Noll A Winning Way did not publish until our book was in production. 

Chuck Noll was a coach who always looked like he could practice with his players.  He never looked  out of shape and it must have been difficult for him as he grew older.  Our author, Patrick McCaskey, wrote about Chuck Noll and his accomplishments, but the purpose of his book, Pillars of the NFL,  was not on speculating about what made the greatest coaches in NFL history tick, it was more on reporting what went on--how the coaches got things done and the approaches they took.  In this way, our book reported that Chuck Noll was a private man who kept his family life separate from his football life and he preached that idea to his players.  Noll had hobbies and interests outside of football and he worked hard so that his football life did not saturate his non-football life.  

Noll's Hall of Fame players had much to say about their coach.  These greats had been celebrities in Pittsburgh for decades and they have been generous over the years in their praise for the old coach. Some got more generous as they themselves aged.

As I look at the film clips and comments that have been posted in the last few days, one comment that I found particularly interesting came from Noll himself.  At one time looking back at his career, he said it had been a lot of fun. 

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press