HC / HC
Class of 1993
"People always ask me why I look at football films so long. It’s because every time I look at them I see a new thing. You look at the same film twenty times and then, bang, something jumps out at you.”
Chuck Noll was the head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 23 seasons from 1969 until 1991. The Noll-led Steelers developed from a miserable 1-13 season in Noll's first campaign to the highest level ever attained by an National Football League team to date.
He won four Super Bowl championships in a six-year period starting with a 16-6 win over Minnesota in Super Bowl IX and culminating with a 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV. Pittsburgh also defeated Dallas twice in classic struggles, 21-17 in Super Bowl X and 35-31 in Super Bowl XIII. Noll took over a Pittsburgh team that had never won a championship of any kind in almost 40 years of National Football League play.
Through shrewd drafts and strong guidance, Noll helped team owner Art Rooney and the Steelers shed their “lovable losers” image. He quickly established a building program with an emphasis on the annual college draft to realize the ultimate goal of an NFL championship.
The rebuilding program bore fruit much more quickly than could have been expected. His fourth team in 1972 finished with an 11-3-0 record and the AFC Central Division title. The Steelers lost the 1972 AFC championship to the undefeated Miami Dolphins 21-17.
Altogether, Noll's team won nine AFC Central Division championships and they had winning records in 15 of his last 20 seasons with the Steelers. He retired with an impressive 209-156-1 record in all games, including a 16-8-0 post-season record.
Noll, a graduate of the University of Dayton, played seven seasons as a messenger guard and a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns from 1953 to 1959. He was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers and the Baltimore Colts for nine years before accepting his first and only head-coaching job with the Steelers in 1969.
Chuck Noll Enshrinement Speech 1993
Presenter: Dan Rooney
Buenos Dias. I bring greetings to the coach and all of you from the team in Barcelona. We would like to begin by congratulating all the members of the Hall of Fame. Today's enshrinees Dan, Walter, Larry and Coach Walsh. There are times though seldom when something happens, when everything comes together, and a group of young men become a special team. Where their accomplishments give them a time in history for the way they reach success not only winning being the best, doing so with unselfish determination to be the best team, making the goal together and that happened in Pittsburgh. It was a glorious time. A team begins with leadership. In 1969, a 35-year young coach arrived with commitment and the ideals to be the best. He assembled players with similar ideas but had to convince them and the entire community to believe the goal was possible. Not an easy achievement. The spark was rocky, but he never deviated and stuck to the basics. Small victories came and they began to believe possibly they could be the best. We are not here today to celebrate statistics; the accomplishments speak for themselves. We are here to consider achievement - not just the greatness of winning seasons, 200 victories or even four Super Bowls or even the greatest teams ever, but the accomplishments of men reaching a level collectively to be the best they could be; men of character doing the job together. All the people of that team belong here. They all deserve to be enshrined in Canton because he led them to greatness, and they were the best.
Today it is most important because the leader is here, He personally deserves to be here; he represents all of them all of us - Pittsburgh. He belongs principally for what he is, a coach, a teacher, a person. His character and ethics had everything to do with his success; withstood throughout, influenced all around to be the kind of person we need - good people, special people, winners lasting, continuing. He is among the great football coaches, Halas, Lombardi, Lambeau, Brown, Shula, Walsh and Stagg, Bryant and Robinson who were special in reaching the top not only having the best records, but the best teams. The Steelers were special in how they were a team. The coach pointed the direction, the direction on how to help each other, one of love. Other teams have considered themselves the enemies of the rest, the Steelers respect it all and play as a tribute to the game and enjoy the challenges. The league had no better champion because they carried the banner with pride and responsibility. They were different, different in play as well as conduct. The coach was different, his love for the game, the league, his players and they all were proud of those differences and he united those differences.
He and Marianne are good friends. Their son Chris a fine young man not surprisingly is a teacher, his wife Linda is a teacher and we had terrific times together. I would like to thank him for what he did for all of us. Pittsburgh became the most livable city. The Steelers were the standard which every team in the NFL tried to emulate. All of us became committed to being the best including the fans. Yes, it was a special time, it was fun when the road ended in Pittsburgh. It is my honor to present for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame one of the finest men ever to play and coach in the NFL, Coach Chuck Noll.
Dan Fouts is holding the money for the guy that cries the longest and I am going to win it. Thank you. Let me tell you, this is the miracle of Canton. It's a miracle because I am here for one, not expecting to but a miracle because I think because a third of Dayton, Ohio is here, right there, and half of Cleveland is here, three quarters of which are my relatives and I think the rest are the men of Benedictine. Of course, from Dayton there are the Un. of Dayton people here; a lot of them and three quarters of Pittsburgh. You know I feel like the luckiest guy in the world, Dan Fouts claimed it, I think he is second. The fact that you can get a timely opportunity that you can put together some teamwork, I think is the thing that you are looking forward to.
You know my background in Cleveland was a great opportunity going to Benedictine High School which would allow academics, sportsmanship and morale responsibility stay on an equal level with athletics and I think that is important for young people. Having coaches that helped you be the best you could by teaching you technique and helping you do that, that is something that stayed with me through my career and that is something I am eternally grateful for. But coming back to opportunity being drafted 21st by the Cleveland Browns and coming back to play for Paul Brown was something that was very special to me because times have changed and 1946 I paid 25 cents to sit in the dog pound, they didn't call it that at that time. They allowed high school players football players to come in to watch the likes of Lou Groza, Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli you know Marion Motley the guys who are sitting here Bill Willis, special people; never had the idea in my mind that I would be on the field with them, but I was able to do that. And that was an opportunity I would never, never forget.
At the end of that career I think that was about 1960, there were some gentlemen who started the AFL. Barron Hilton was one, Lamar Hunt, who is over here, was one and they got together and started a league and there was an opportunity for coaches. And Sid Gillman was named the head coach of the Chargers at that time it was the Los Angeles Chargers and I called him on the phone and said I really need a coaching job and he said what kind of experience do you have and I said well I played but I never coached and he said your hired. And I appreciate that opportunity Sid very much because working under Sid was really something special. It was a research project, it was great guidance, a learning experience were he kind of let me have my head and guided me when I needed guidance and he did that very, very well and I appreciate that very much. After being in the AFL for a while, there was an opportunity with Don Shula in Baltimore and again, a timely opportunity and he hired me and gave me the necessary things to do a job and I really have to apologize to him for Super Bowl III.
That wasn't one of the fonder memories we had, but again an opportunity came, and I was afforded by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only the job opportunity that was great but living in the City of Pittsburgh was great. One of the things that I really failed to mention earlier is that atmosphere is a huge thing, a big thing. I had atmosphere in high school where you come in and you have the opportunity to grow. We had atmosphere at the Un. of Dayton and in Pittsburgh one of the things that was a real problem when I came there was I don't want to say a lack of atmosphere, but we trained out in South Park and if anybody has seen South Park it is really a rather depressing place and when Three Rivers Stadium was put together by the citizens of Pittsburgh, I think it was a turnaround for our whole football team. We drafted some great people, we drafted the likes of Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Jack Ham, you know they came into that place. We played the first game in Three Rivers Stadium against the New York Jets and that was the team we lost to in Super Bowl III and I was a little antsy about this game and I walked around the locker room and Ray Mansfield was sitting there, he was a center for us, and I couldn't believe the look on his face because his eyes were aglow and they were twinkling and it was the atmosphere of a locker room and a training camp we had come from that was really something special. And these guys went out on the field and because of that atmosphere, the new stadium, the new teammates we won the first game in Three Rivers Stadium and from that time on, it was all up hill.
And I said you have to be lucky and I was. You know you have a lot of people going through this whole thing and I am very grateful to, grateful to the coaches that I have had and grateful for the players I have worked with because one of the great learning situations is trying to teach a player a particular technique or a response and the feedback that you get from them. I will be ever grateful and thankful because in the past some very good things happened because of these people. I said opportunity was important, timely opportunity but I think the single most important thing we had in the Steelers in the 70's was an ability to work together, you know it was called teamwork and you know it is tough to describe that. You use that word and the thing that stuck out in my mind is that we had a lot of people who didn't worry about what someone else did. If someone else was having a tough time on a particular day they reached down and got it up a little more.
They got the thing done. Whatever they had to do they did to win. There was never a reason to let down. You know right now you hear about teamwork and it is defined as 50-50. That is a falsehood. There is no such thing as 50-50. You do whatever you have to do as part of the team. You may have to carry somebody. We had an offensive line when we were playing Houston that was decimated with the flu. Our offense couldn't move the ball, we had an injury to the. quarterback. It was a time when maybe our defense and our special teams could have said hey let's fold our tent and go home. It didn't happen that way. We had a bunch of guys, Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mel Blount, you know they would get together reach down and what they did was eliminate the running attack. When they tried to run the ball, there was a Joe Greene in the running lane; there was a Jack Lambert hammering on. When they went back to pass Joe Greene and Pastorini was all over them on the back, L.C. Greenwood. They just took the ball away from them and we had the ball in scoring territory and were able to kick field goals, to me that is teamwork.
Another week the offense carried it while the defense struggled. But that is something that right now in a society of confrontation you know we have male against female. We got black against white we got labor against management in a confrontational thing. Well you know the shame of it is some people have made progress through confrontation, but I can't tell you how much you can gain, how much progress you can make by working as a team, by helping one another. You get much more done that way and if there is anything the Steelers in the 70s epitomized, I think it was that teamwork. Thank you very much.