Hall of Famer Chuck Noll dies at 82

"He was the glue," Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham told The Associated Press. "He was the guy that got all of us to buy into how to win a championship. He took the lead."

"I know his players really appreciate him," said Dick Hoak, an assistant coach for the Steelers from 1972-2006 who is retired and lives in the Pittsburgh area. "A lot of them will say the most valuable guy they had when they won all of those championships was Coach Noll. He had the respect of all of his players.

"He was a great teacher. He not only taught the players, he taught the coaches. I thought I knew a lot about football until I got with him. Everything I have I owe to him and the Rooney family."

Noll is seventh on the NFL's all-time list for regular-season wins by a coach, and in 23 seasons he went 193-148-1 during the regular season.

"He looked at intensity and desire and will to win and he thought that was just as important as physical talent," Tony Dungy, who both played and coached under Noll, told ESPN.com on Saturday. "And then, he was strong enough as a person and coach to get a lot of talented individuals with strong personalities to come together and buy into the team's scheme first.

"That is very very difficult to do as a coach. And that was Chuck Noll's genius."

Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who replaced Noll and is second to him in victories (161) with the team, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "[Noll] will go down as the guy who helped create the mystique that exists now with the Steelers."

Cowher also commented on Twitter.

The flag at the Pro Football Hall of Fame was lowered to half-staff on Saturday in Noll's memory.

"When Chuck became our head coach, he brought a change to the whole culture of the organization," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. "... He set a new standard for the Steelers that still is the foundation of what we do and who we are. From the players to the coaches to the front office down to the ball boys, he taught us all what it took to be a winner."

The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Paul's Cathedral, which is located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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