Chuck Noll, who led the once pitiful Pittsburgh Steelers into an era of triumph in the 1970s, became the first and still only NFL coach to win four Super Bowls and did it all with a fundamental, no frills style, died at 9:55 p.m. ET Friday night of natural causes at his home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley, according to Leonard Longo, a forensic investigator for the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner. He was 82. …
Noll, who had been defensive backfield coach of the Baltimore Colts, took over the Steelers in 1969 with no fanfare. In 37 seasons before his arrival, the Steelers had gone through 16 coaches and never won a thing. Not a conference title. Not a division title. Their postseason record in that span: losses in 1947 (in a division tie-breaker just to make the playoffs) and in 1962 (in a “Playoff Bowl” that was merely for third place).
But under Noll, who built a formidable roster through a series of draft bonanzas, the Steelers won the Super Bowl in the 1974 and 1975 seasons and again in 1978 and 1979. He compiled an overall coaching record of 209-156-1, including 16-8 in the playoffs and nine AFC Central Division titles. He was inducted into the Pro Bowl Football Hall of Fame in 1993. …
Noll’s public profile never rose to the level of other coaches of his era, such as Don Shula of the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins and Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys. Noll’s personal choices had something to do with that.
He never wrote a book. He routinely declined endorsement deals, such as one from Nestle to use his photo on a candy bar.
The day after one of his Super Bowl victories, Noll told the media that actually winning the game and having the season end was kind of a letdown. “The thrill isn’t in the winning. It’s in the doing,” he said of the season-long journey.
He wasn’t a glib talker at news conferences. He quoted one of his teachers as saying, “Empty barrels make the most noise.”