J.T. Thomas: Noll Taught Us That You Never Arrive
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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Former Steelers cornerback J.T. Thomas was a part of all four of Chuck Noll’s Super Bowl championship teams. He joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Monday to share his memories of the late Steelers legend.
Thomas told the guys that Noll focused heavily on getting his players to mature.
“He was about being a man, about you being a man. One of the things that Chuck insisted is that the boy must die so that the man could evolve,” Thomas said. “If the boy didn’t die, Chuck would cut you.”
Thomas explained that Noll’s leadership had an impact on his players that went far beyond the football field.
“He affirmed us,” Thomas said. “He actually spoke to our souls, and I think most of the guys are just kind of grateful when you look back, reflect, and look at the positives that Chuck made into your life.”
Thomas told the guys that one of Noll’s best attributes was his ability to communicate with his players on a personal level.
“Chuck was a great communicator,” Thomas said. “It was awesome watching him go in the locker room and how he communicated with every player differently. I think his greatest talent was his ability to communicate to you personally. He could actually communicate with you personally while he’s talking to 50 people.”
When asked if Noll would have the same level of success today, Thomas explained that Noll’s style may not have been a perfect fit for today’s NFL but still has a timeless appeal.
“The attitudes of players are different today,” Thomas said. “Chuck was a disciplinarian and there were no gray areas. So, I’m not sure Chuck would be as successful. But then, I say he’s smart enough to adapt, and we adapted to many situations, so I guess, thinking about it, he would adapt, because he was intelligent enough to realize, if I need to change direction, let’s do so.”
Thomas said that Noll kept his teams focused by never allowing them to live in their past successes.
“Each year you came back, you thought you were a rookie making the team,” Thomas said. “He used a comment once that you never arrive, and that was a constant in his teaching philosophy that you never arrive, that there were no plateaus in life.”
The interview can be heard here: