Excerpt: '100 Yards of Glory' on Steelers dynasty

Mon, Nov 21

From 100 YARDS OF GLORY: The Greatest Moments in NFL History by Joe Garner and Bob Costas. Copyright © 2011 by Joe Garner. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
All rights reserved.

An excerpt from Chapter 1: The Dynasties

No. 4: The 1970s Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s produced what many think is the greatest play in NFL history during the playoffs in 1972 -- Terry Bradshaw to Franco Harris (off Jack Tatum), immortalized as "the Immaculate Reception."

They also had the single greatest draft in NFL history in 1974, when they picked up four future Hall of Famers: Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Jack Lambert, and Mike Webster. And they assembled the greatest collection of talent ever on one team, with nine eventual Hall of Famers plus an annual assortment of Pro Bowlers. "The Steelers had the best grouping of players in the history of the game," said Bill Walsh, who coached the 49ers dynasty. "No question about it."

They even had the greatest sports-related TV commercial ever, thanks to "Mean Joe" Greene's "Hey, kid, ... catch" ad for Coca-Cola.

But none of that would have added up to much if not for the bottom line: the Steelers won it all and then did it again, and again, and again, winning four Super Bowls in six years -- and doing it during an era of great teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and Miami Dolphins.

Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount credits the man with the keen eye for talent who oversaw those drafts and pushed his players hard. "They talk about the Vince Lombardi Era, but I think the Chuck Noll Era is even greater," he said. Noll was tough on his players but enjoyed the role of teacher. And in the media, he shifted attention and praise away from himself and toward his players.

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