From the PG Archives: Steelers' Winning Ticket
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This story from the Post-Gazette archives was first published on Jan. 18, 1969.
Chuck Noll is no miracle man, but the husky 37-year old six-footer gives the impression of being eager to try to pump some winning fluid into the Steelers.
The former Baltimore Colts' assistant coach made a fine first appearance here yesterday at the Roosevelt Hotel, only a few hours after he was named to succeed Bill Austin.
Noll had no immediate plans to win any titles for the Steelers who never have won a championship, but he has three years to build a winner.
He's a good speaker, gives you the idea he's a solid man and appears to be confident without being boastful. He owns a good football mind and a memory to match.
Noll had some keen observations on the Colts' loss of the Supper Bowl to the Jets.
"We kind of underestimated the Jets," he explained. "We had a week and a half of being told how good we were and we believed it."
He was asked about the "flea flicker" pass play when Earl Morrall handed off to Tome Matte and Matte passed to Morrall, who in turn was to pass to Jimmy Orr. Morrall threw to another receiver near the end of the half and the Jets intercepted.
"We worked that play many times in games and worked it during practice," Noll added. "And, it's always Morrall to Orr. But when Morrall looked for Orr this time, he couldn't find him.
"The band was around the end zone preparing to come on the field for the half time show and the band wore blue uniforms. Orr's blue jersey clashed with the colors of the band and Morrall couldn't pick out Orr. So he went to another receiver."
Dan Rooney announced the appointment of Noll at a hastily arranged press conference at 11 a.m. with Noll still in Baltimore.
"I made up my mind this morning, called Noll, he agreed and we decided to give out the news now from Pittsburgh, rather than have it leak out of Baltimore or some other city," Rooney said.
"When I first talked to Noll after the Super Bowl game, I thought he was young for the job, but when we brought him to Pittsburgh, he sold himself to us.
"The only coach who had the opportunity to turn down the job was Joe Paterno. After Paterno refused the job, I researched the assistant coaches of both leagues and Noll's name always came to the top. I interviewed about 10 men in all."
Rooney listed the qualifications he sought for a head coach.
"Naturally, I wanted a man who knew the pro game," Rooney explained. "And we needed a coach who could motivate our players. We have some good personnel and expect to draft a few more good prospects. We just need someone who can put it together."
Noll has an 11-year-old son, Chris, who understandably is sorry to leave all the friends he made in Baltimore.
A Steeler Now
"However, he knows what this means to me," Noll smiled. "When I told him the news, he looked up with a smile and said, 'Those old Colts. I'm a Steeler fan now.'"
Noll hasn't built up any legends about the game.
"The best advice I've ever received was to avoid mistakes," he said. "You lose games by mistakes. If you can stay away from mistakes, you'll win a great share of your games.
"We had so many mistakes in the Super Bowl. The Jets had so few."
One of the writers kidded Noll about Pittsburgh's penchant for losing teams. He ticked them off: Pirates, Pitt, Steelers, Penguins.
"This is the City of Losers," he pointed out.
"We'll change history, Noll said and he said it like he meant it.
First Published September 30, 2007 3:27 am