PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Former Steelers director of communications Joe Gordon joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Monday to talk about the life and legacy of Chuck Noll.
Gordon held his position for the entirety of Noll’s tenure, and remained close with the Noll family in the years that followe his retirement.
He told the guys that Noll always dealt with people the right way, though it took everybody a little while to get comfortable with him.
“Chuck was not a great conversationalist, unless you were talking about something other than football,” Gordon said. “But, he was always very respectful of everybody, and always very accommodating to me. The thing that I most appreciated about Chuck was he let you do your job. He was not a control freak like a lot of the coaches today in the NFL.”
Noll famously shied away from the limelight, meaning that Gordon often had to act as a buffer between Noll and the people pursuing him for endorsement opportunities.
“I would take it to him at the beginning, but then after a while I knew he wasn’t interested.” Gordon said. “One particular offer was kind of interesting. Hershey Cocoa contacted us and they just wanted to use his photograph in some print advertising and it would pay $15,000 and he wouldn’t have to do anything- they would just take a stock photo. And $15,000 back in the early 70s or mid-70s was a lot of money. He says why don’t you tell them to use one of the assistant coaches, and that was the end of it. But, that was typical of him.”
Gordon explained that this was simply a product of Noll’s nature.
“He didn’t like attention and he was a very non-materialistic person,” Gordon said. “Money did not mean anything to him. He was just satisfied to have a high standard of living without becoming a very wealthy man. He just wasn’t interested in all the peripheral things.”
It’s tough to think of many weaknesses that Noll had, but Gordon told the guys that if there was one, it was that he held on to the players from his championship teams a bit too long.
“He probably showed a weakness in being too loyal to some of those players who had been on those four Super Bowl teams,” Gordon said. “He had some opportunities to make some changes. I think the loyalty factor was probably a negative from that standpoint, and [that] could have made the Steelers more competitive in those latter years.”
As Noll’s legacy is discussed following his passing, a major question being asked it’s whether or not he’d succeed to the same degree in today’s NFL.
“It would be interesting to see if he could adjust to the change in the players, the psyche of the players,” Gordon said. “It would have been a challenge to him. I think something that changed radically was free agency. When free agency came into the NFL, players became more independent. The coaches could not be as strict and as disciplined with them as they previously had been. But his strength, I think-the fact that he preached the same message every day and was so consistent in his coaching philosophy- it would have won the day even in this era.”
The interview can be heard here: