PHOENIX -- It has been more than nine months since Chuck Noll died at the age of 82 but the legendary coach left an enormous imprint on the NFL .
That was evident at the NFL owners meetings held earlier this week at the Arizona Biltmore.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomin each affirmed the organization’s commitment to building through the draft, something that started with Noll in 1969 and transformed a meandering franchise into a championship one.
John Fox, meanwhile, will try to rebuild the Chicago Bears after successful head-coaching stints with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos by summoning what he learned from Noll as a young assistant.
Those lessons are still applicable almost three decades after Fox broke into the NFL with Noll and the Steelers.
“Fundamentals, the even-keeled approach you take with your teams, in those areas [Noll was] maybe the best ever,” said Fox, who coached the Steelers' defensive backs from from 1989-91. “I’m a little more hyper than Chuck was in personality but he was always very calming and had great wisdom. I had tremendous respect for him. Watching Chuck, [he had] a unique vision of football.”
He also had a unique approach. Noll was not consumed by football despite his enormous success and had a wide array of interests outside of the game.
“Chuck was a guy if you were an engineer and you met him somewhere socially he’d know more about engineering the next time he met you than you did,” Fox recalled. “He had that kind of love for life, love for information.”
That passion translated into Noll excelling as teacher. And it is a big reason is why Noll is the only coach to win four Super Bowls without losing one, Fox said.
“That’s what coaching is, teaching,” said Fox, who led the Panthers and Broncos to the Super Bowl and will try to do the same with the Bears. “And when a player knows you can help him be better, you’re going to put him in positions to have success, they’ll give you everything they have.
"Chuck was unique in that he won four Super Bowls and it wasn’t about how much [money] he made. You never saw a car dealership billboard [with his picture]. He was all about the players. He was a very humble man and accomplished a lot.”