A walk to honor a legend

The quiet and scenic beauty that surrounds the trails at Saint Vincent College is ideal for a walk any day of the week.

But on this day, that walk many took through the peaceful pathways took on special meaning.

On this day, they were walking for a cause.

The third annual Steelers Charity Walk to benefit the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research took place on Saturday morning, a calm precursor to what would be a fun afternoon of football as a part of Steelers training camp.

“It’s a beautiful day at Saint Vincent,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “Great way to get it started with the walk for the Chuck Noll Foundation.”

Steelers legend and Hall of Famer Mel Blount served as the co-chair for the walk, along with Garrett Webster, the son of late Steelers Hall of Famer Mike Webster. It was a perfect opportunity for Blount to honor his late coach and share memories of the man known as ‘The Emperor.’

“We all were young athletes, not even young men yet when we came to the Steelers,” said Blount. “Chuck had a way of leading. We all talk about what he did as a coach. A lot of that was because of his leadership. He had a good eye for not just talent, but character. The one thing I find myself now working with people, employees, and even my kids is using the Chuck Noll philosophy and theories of life. The things he would say.

“He was a father figure for me. For someone who lost their father in college, my freshman year, and I was coming out of South, out of segregation. Chuck was the kind of guy who grew on me. One of the things I learned was the way you treat people and handle people says a lot about who you are. Chuck was a solid person. Not just a good coach, but a good person.

“Any success the Steelers organization is experiencing today, Chuck Noll was the foundation of it.”

Take a look at photos from the 3rd annual Steelers Charity Walk held at Saint Vincent College benefiting the Chuck Noll Foundation

The Foundation’s mission is to help provide funding for “research projects relating to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries of the brain occurring primarily in sports activities.”

“We are making a lot of progress, but a lot more research needs to be done and that is what the Chuck Noll Foundation is all about,” said Rooney. “There is a lot of great research being done in Pittsburgh and the region. The foundation has supported a number of projects at UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and this year we funded a project at West Virginia University. There is a lot of work being done and we are glad the foundation is able to support it.

“I think Chuck would be happy this is the kind of thing that is being done in his name. It’s a great way to remember Chuck.”

Noll was a coach who was committed to his players, caring about them on and off the field. It was that commitment that eventually led to the development of the ImPACT test, a post-concussion assessment and cognitive test now used by the NFL, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and by over 12,000 colleges and high schools in the United States. And it all began with encouragement from Noll.

“I am not surprised Chuck was at the forefront of this,” said Blount. “Chuck was always the guy who was pushing knowledge, new ways of doing things. He was always curious when you got an injury, he wanted to find out as much as he could about it. Because of that I am not surprised he was ahead of the game as far as concussions.

“This is an honor for me to be here and support what he started with that, and to help the foundation. Every player who played for Chuck held him in high esteem. It wasn’t just because of his ability to get the best out of you, but his ability to demand respect and get respect. That is hard when you are a coach who is in charge of 50 plus men. But he could treat everybody the same, but at the same time treat them different. He treated everybody fairly.”

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