Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, who guided the team to four Super Bowl titles in his 23-year tenure with the team, was reportedly found dead Friday night at the age of 82, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
Noll was found unresponsive by his wife, Marianne, at 9:45 p.m. ET. She called 911, and paramedics pronounced him dead at 9:55 p.m.
After a 1-13 season as a rookie head coach, Noll turned the Steelers' ship around and guided the team to the postseason in his fourth season. A few years later, the team became one of the all-time NFL dynasties. The Steelers were the team of the 1970s under his stewardship, winning four titles in a six-year span from 1974 to 1979.
“Chuck Noll is the best thing to happen to the Rooneys since they got on the boat in Ireland,” said Art Rooney Jr., the oldest son of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr.
Noll compiled a regular-season coaching record of 193-149-1 up through his final season in 1991, and a postseason mark of 16-8. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1993.
A highly regarded high-school player, Noll played collegiately at Dayton and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 193. Noll spent seven seasons wih the Browns as a guard and linebacker, collecting eight interceptions — five in 1955 — in 77 career games played.
Noll got his coaching start with the San Diego Chargers as their defensive line coach in 1960 and 1961, later becoming their defensive coordinator. He later became Don Shula's defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Colts and oversaw the 1968 defense that allowed an NFL-fewest 144 points for a team that ultimately lost in Super Bowl III to the New York Jets.
The following season, Noll was given a chance by the Rooney family to coach the Steelers once Penn State's Joe Paterno turned down the job. Shula gave Noll a strong recommendation to Art Rooney, and a dynasty was born.
Noll started putting together the pieces of the famed "Steel Curtain" defense, and by 1972 — with quarterback Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris in place on the offensive side — the team began an eight-year run of dominance and a regular-season mark of 88-27-1 and playoff appearances in each of those seasons.
Although the team took a dip in the 1980s, as most of the legendary group of the decade before aged, the Steelers still made the playoffs four times in the decade and suffered only two losing seasons. Noll retired following the 1991 season, and he remains one of the most beloved figures in Pittsburgh sports history.
In the 23 years prior to Noll being hired, the Steelers had seven head coaches. After Noll's 23-year reign, the team has had two since him — Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, both of whom have won one Super Bowl.
Noll kept as low a profile as possible during his coaching career, often turning down endorsement offers and not seeking the media spotlight. He laid even lower after retirement but remained a revered football figure. Severe back pain made it difficult for Noll to get around in recent years, and he was forced to walk with the use of canes. He had been under doctor's care recently for an undisclosed ailment.
Noll leaves his wife, Marianne; his son, Chris; and two grandchildren, Katie, and Connor.
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