By Christina Rivers
News of legendary NFL and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll’s death in June at the age of 82 rocked not only the organization, but the Steelers’ loyal fanbase. Near-immediate responses to the loss included statements from the Steelers organization, and Noll’s legacy was discussed and honored by fans across social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter around the world. Feelings were that the team should honor Noll, the man who will forever be linked to the four Lombardi trophies that the Steelers won in the 1970s, and on Monday Steelers President Art Rooney II announced that Sunday, Sept. 7, will be “Chuck Noll Day” at Heinz Field.
“We wanted to do something,” Rooney told Bob Labriola of Steelers.com. “Chuck really provided a lot of the foundation that all of this – players, coaches, front office, owners – we are all standing on that foundation. I think it’s important that we recognize that, and this is a great way to do it.”
The Steelers will wear a special decal on their helmets the entire 2014 NFL season to pay homage to the foundation that Noll built in Pittsburgh with the oversight of the Rooney family. The coaching staff will wear pins. Noll was a no-nonsense coach that focused on execution of plays, fundamental football skills and creating a team that was not only competitive, but one to be respected. He was a part of the lives of Hall of Fame players like Jack Lambert, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Greene. He greatly influenced players like Lynn Swann and Mel Blount. A respected leader, Noll may not have approved of any accolades worn on helmets or coach’s sideline wear, but he would have been humbly honored that the Steelers and fans respected him enough to want to continue to celebrate his contributions and life.
Chuck Noll coached in an era that many young Steelers fans can only watch on digital media. Many, including some players on the current Steelers team, were not even born at the time. Noll’s name is synonymous with success to those Steelers players and fans who were blessed to see him lead grown men on the gridiron, in the locker room, on the practice field and in life. Noll’s life is one that did not “just” involve time with the Steelers, but he’ll forever be in the hearts of those who call ‘Steelers Nation’ home.
Noll’s wife, Marianne, and his son, Chris, will be presented with a helmet bearing the decal honoring their husband and father on the field Sunday. Fans will have an opportunity to witness the event and it is a guarantee that the utmost respect will be given along with cheers for everything that Noll and his family gave during their time in Pittsburgh.
Defensive end Brett Keisel may have said it best. “You think of that name, Chuck Noll, you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you think of the four Super Bowls they won in the 1970s, the domination that was created by him. I’m always thinking about those guys he drafted and the mentality he instilled in them. It was the reason they were so good, because of the way they came and played together. It was all because of Chuck Noll. When you think about the Pittsburgh Steelers you think about championships and you think about Chuck Noll.”
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Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on