Kolb: 'I wanted to make a difference'

Legends Series: Jon Kolb
Offensive Lineman

Jon Kolb is best known to Steelers fans for being a part of an offensive line that helped a prolific offense win four Super Bowl championships in the 1970s.

But, he wanted to be remembered for more.

"I didn't want playing football to be the biggest thing to ever happen to me," said Kolb. "I wanted to make a difference."

And that is exactly what he is doing now. Kolb recently embarked on a new venture, Adventure Training with a Purpose (ATP). It allows him to use his Master's degree in exercise science, combined with his vast knowledge of strength and conditioning as a player, to help others.

ATP focuses on helping those with special needs develop physically, allowing them more freedom and vigor in life.

"The idea is to give people the freedom to move," said Kolb. "Sometimes you can improve the circumstances for people. You have individuals who are trapped in a prison by their own bodies because they don't have the freedom to move."

Kolb, who is Director of the Wellness Center at Specialty Orthopedic, where he develops programs for all ages. Kolb works with everyone from high school athletes to senior citizens, helping them to maintain a healthy life style and work within their abilities.

He wanted to expand that, therefore creating ATP, a 501(c) organization that takes the approach he uses with others to helping those who need a boost.

"I thought, can we apply what we do with people with special needs," said Kolb. "We can do it with athletes, now can we do it with people with special needs. And we can. I have someone who went from wheelchair to walking with forearm crutches in 2 ½ years. They are improving their functions, and improving their life.

"The purpose is to have freedom and a quality lifestyle. I am very passionate about it. Most of us would regret the things we didn't do."

Kolb, who played 13 seasons for the Steelers (1969-81) and then went on to serve as the team's strength and conditioning coach from 1982-91, has great memories of his playing days but the greatest likely being a part of a special group.

"The key word is to be a part of it," said Kolb. "Every person there felt like they were a part of it. They didn't feel like they were the team. Everybody was an integral part of the team.
We had a lot of guys with different personalities, but there was a huge tightness on the team."

That team feeling came from Coach Chuck Noll, who never singled out players as superstars, but rather treated everyone the same. Kolb knows how blessed he was to not just play for Noll, but work on his coaching staff.

"He would say three things to us," said Kolb. "You have to know what to do, how to do it, and be able to do it. What to do was the X's and O's. We spent time on that, but we really honed in on the how do you do it, where is your vision, where are your hands, feet, your body weight. The third thing is you could know all of that stuff, but you have to have the ability to do it. When you saw (Lynn) Swann and (John) Stallworth making the catches, Franco (Harris) doing his thing, Terry (Bradshaw) throwing the ball, those guys had the ability to do it.

"He was always business. Never distracted."

Kolb said it wasn't often that you heard praise from Noll, but the one time he remembers hearing it was when he was part of the coaching staff and he took great pleasure in it.

"After one game he said good job," said Kolb. "It was the first time he said it. Then he said if you weren't doing a good job, you wouldn't be here. That was Chuck. That good job lasted for the next eight years. I still hold to it. That was my one good job and I will hold onto it for as long as I live."

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