Hall of Famer Chuck Noll dies at 82


PITTSBURGH --  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 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.

"Coach Noll's quiet leadership produced extraordinary results that deeply inspired players, coaches and fans," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday in a statement. "He always put the team, his players, and the game first. His legacy of excellence will forever be an important part of the history of the Steelers and the NFL."

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 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.

"I think he ranks with Halas and Lombardi. There are many other good coaches over the history of the NFL, but I think Chuck Noll ranks up there with those other two guys right at the top," Dan Rooney said Saturday in a statement. "No other coach won four Super Bowls, and the way he did it was with dignity. His players were always his concern, both in treating them well and giving them what they needed to succeed on the field."

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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