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Former Steel Curtain defensive coach George Perles passes away at the age of 85

The once Steelers’ assistant head coach went on to coach the Michigan State Spartans for 12 seasons

Michigan State Spartans v Ohio State Buckeyes Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coach George Perles passed away on Tuesday at the age of 85 from Parkinson’s Disease. Perles spent 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before going on to be the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans for 12 years.

Perles served as the Steelers defensive line coach for six seasons from 1972 to 1977 after serving in the same role with the Michigan State Spartans from 1959 to 1971. In 1978, Perles was promoted to defensive coordinator before moving up to the title of assistant head coach in 1979. Perles spent four seasons as assistant head coach and was a part of all four Steelers’ Super Bowl teams of the 1970s.

Perles left the Steelers to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. While Perles was instrumental in the formation of the Philadelphia Stars, he never actually coached the game as he left to become the head coach of his alma mater Michigan State.

Perhaps Perles’ greatest claim to fame was being credited with helping to invent the 4-3 Stunt defense in 1974. Utilizing Joe Greene in a tilted position between the guard-center gap with Jack Lambert stacked behind him, the scheme was originally deemed successful due to the athleticism of Greene. But once taking over as the head coach at Michigan State, Perles showed the scheme could work regardless of having superstar players.

Perles is survived by his wife, Sally, of over 60 years along with four children and six grandchildren.