Chuck Noll: The reaction


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Chuck was just the ultimate leader. He had truth and belief in what he was saying, and over time all of those things he said were validated, the things about winning football games and being a solid citizen. ... I was very proud to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and to be coached by Chuck.

Joe Greene, defensive lineman, 1969-1981

I'm proud to have played for him. It was a great honor. My relationship wasn't good, as you well know, but he made me understand my job responsibilities, because I had to grow up. ... I learned how to be mentally tough with him, and for that I can never say thank you enough, because that got me through divorces, Super Bowls, and those times when I had bad moments in big games.

He's kind of like a father from whom you want approval and you don't quite get it, and in the advent of that journey you work harder and harder, you try to get better and better, and then when it's all said and done he says, "Thank you. You were a great quarterback." And you say, "Wow!"

Terry Bradshaw, quarterback, 1970-1983

Chuck always said the success of his players will be in the upbringing of their kids, and I didn't know what that meant. But I think it was the impact of who they are as people and their values, and how that transfers to the impact that they have on their kids. I found myself doing this, giving Chuck's "Nollisms" on life and how that affected us when we were playing, the basics, the fundamentals, giving 100 percent. You look back at those people who touched you, and Chuck was one of those kinds of people who touched you.

Rocky Bleier, running back, 1968, 1970-80

He was a father figure, with me being a young African-American growing up in the South and losing my father early in my college career. .. . . He was a stabilizing figure in my life. He was a great mentor and a great leader. He was special. People underestimate, or maybe they don't really know, Chuck's leadership skills. He was a great leader because he was consistent. He was the kind of guy where whatever day you saw him he was the same guy. I try to be that working with my employees and the children.

Mel Blount, cornerback, 1970-1983

With all the great players -- Bradshaw, Swann, Franco, Lambert, Greene -- we don't win championships without Chuck. He was the glue. He was the guy that got all of us to buy into how to win a championship. ...There's no question -- you want to talk about an MVP of a very talented football team, it was Chuck. ... He told us one time, "You don't learn anything five minutes before a football game [that] is going to make you play any better or any worse, it's your preparation." I think a lot of guys not only carried that in football but in their lives as well.

Jack Ham, linebacker, 1971-1982

These are times when we reflect on all the great memories and the great times that we had. And there's no doubt that these memories that we had, probably people consider them the best of times in pro football. That goes for Chuck, the organization and the team he put together.

Franco Harris, running back, 1972-1983

All of my head coaches in high school, college and in the pros, they were all good teachers and father figures. Chuck was no different. They were great teachers. . . .There was one thing I really admired about him and that was all people want the attention and they want to be known, and he never pursued that. He always took the back seat. He always labored behind the scenes quietly. And that was a great example of a servant leader.

Donnie Shell, safety, 1974-1987

I always wanted to know that he thought I did well. One of the things that he would always do after the game when we would review the game, he would make comments on who played well in the game and how we did overall as a team, but who did well. It was always special to me when he said John Stallworth did something well.

One of the lessons I learned from him was that you've never arrived, that you never get to the point where you are the best that you can be, and you should admit you are always striving to be better and to get better in whatever it was -- as a football player, as a father, as a business person, as someone who was active in the community. ... I think I carry that more than anything. You can always be better. You've never arrived.

Lynn Swann, wide receiver, 1974-1982


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