Saturday was just another day for me. Taking care of things around the house, managing the site, completing some graduate work, heading to the grocery store, tending to my three children not to mention a seemingly endless list of outdoor chores which needed to get done. Welcome to the life of Jeff Hartman, BTSC editor. It wasn't until things started to settle down when I glanced at the BTSC Twitter account to see someone had tagged us in a post notifying us of the one-year anniversary of the passing of Chuck Noll.
I remember where I was a year ago when I saw the breaking news scroll across the bottom of my television. I remember wondering how my father was handling this news and I remember being sad for a Nation of Pittsburgh Steelers fans mourning the loss of their forefather.
Here is the kicker, as a fresh-faced 32-year-old I wasn't alive for the Steelers 1970s dynasty. I, as most of you reading this were as well, was educated on the nuances of players like Jack Lambert, "Mean" Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Terry "The Blonde Bomber" Bradshaw and Mel Blount (just to name a few) as part of my upbringing. You didn't just enjoy the Steelers, you lived and breathed it.
Despite my mother's continuous comments on how she wishes I could somehow use my brain for "something productive" rather than memorizing player's jersey numbers, statistics, game scores and dates of games of major importance, I was hooked.
Regardless of the players in those 1970s, there was a glue that kept the machine together and running on all cylinders, That glue was Chuck Noll. Some might scoff at someone writing about a person whom they never truly saw doing their best work, but I view Noll the same way I viewed many of our country's greatest leaders who lived and died well before I was even a thought in anyone's mind.
Noll was different. He didn't always abide by conventional thought or wisdom, but did what he knew would be best for the organization. Can anyone forget the headline when Noll drafted Joe Greene? "Who is Joe Greene?" it read. Highly criticized, the move ended up paying huge dividends for those insanely great teams who won 4 Super Bowls in 6 seasons.
Unless you are a brand-spanking new Steelers fans, you know Noll's impact in turning a perennial loser into a powerhouse, but Noll's legacy stretches much further than his time as a head coach. Noll set the standard which Bill Cowher took and handed down to Mike Tomlin when he took the reigns in 2007. It was Noll who created "The Standard" Tomlin speaks of so eloquently in his weekly press conferences. It was Noll who took the Steelers organization from a yearly coaching vacancy to stability-- only have 3 head coaches in the past 46 years.
Chuck Noll is to the Pittsburgh Steelers as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln are to the United States of America. On this day, whether you were alive to see those legendary teams or not, we all take the time to remember Noll's greatness and what he has done for the team we call our own. Forever our coach, rest in peace Coach Noll.