Labriola On

Labriola on Noll, rooting for Richardson

Ready or not, here it comes:

  • The press release issued by the NFL on Jan. 28 read as follows: "The Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors have chosen the 'Super Bowl 50 Golden Team' in honor of Super Bowl 50, celebrating the best overall career performances in the Super Bowl … The Super Bowl 50 Golden Team roster consists of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, two offensive tackles, two guards, one center, two interior defensive linemen, two defensive ends, two inside linebackers, two outside linebackers, two cornerbacks, two safeties, one kicker, one punter, and one return specialist. One head coach has also been chosen."
  • Eleven offensive players. Twelve defensive players. One kicker, one punter, one returner. One coach. The all-time best in the all-time game. The all-time best in the game in which champions are crowned and legends are born.
  • Bill Walsh. Tom Landry. Don Shula. Bill Belichick. Joe Gibbs. Jimmy Johnson. Bill Parcells. There also was Vince Lombardi, but seven of his 10 seasons as an NFL coach happened before the Super Bowl was invented.
  • Nope. It wasn't any of them. Chuck Noll was the one coach. Deservedly so.
  • Noll won four, but more significantly when it comes to this type of recognition, he lost none.
  • He took a young team, a franchise totally inexperienced in the ways of winning a championship, to New Orleans for Super Bowl IX. Noll allowed the players to blow off steam in the French Quarter early in the week, and then it was down to business, and come game time the inexperienced Steelers were loose and more ready to play than the Minnesota Vikings. It turned into a physical butt-kicking.
  • He won them back-to-back. Twice. And in each of the back-end games, Noll's team was a favorite facing an opponent that squeezed into the Super Bowl via a big upset, or two. And in both of those games, Noll's team was trailing entering the fourth quarter. But he never allowed the pressure to get to him or his team. Never coached not to lose. Didn't play the percentages, either.
  • Put his great defense on the field to ice the win against Dallas in Super Bowl X. Told Terry Bradshaw to attack the Rams defense down the field on third downs in Super Bowl XIV. The Steelers won both of those games.
  • In Super Bowl XIII, Noll's team beat the defending champion Cowboys and bested those Cowboys in the very-significant-at-the-time quest to become the first NFL franchise to own three Lombardis. In the first two Super Bowls won, Noll had an offense that ran it 103 times and attempted 37 passes. To win the third, Noll was egoless enough to understand the changes to the game and his team, and that day the offense ran it 22 times and attempted 34 passes.
  • By the way, Noll's quarterback called his own plays. Always. Noll taught the quarterback and installed the game plan, but Terry Bradshaw called the plays. Yet another example of a great coach – to have your players be an independent extension of your plan in the most important games on the schedule.
  • This is brought up here as a reminder of Chuck Noll's greatness, because too often his is the name omitted from the top portion of the list under the heading "Greatest All-Time NFL Coaches." Why Noll is given short shrift there is puzzling, but maybe some of it has to do with the depth of talent on his Steelers championship teams.
  • Think it's easy to coach a great team to a championship? Ask Mike Martz how easy that isn't, especially if you let your ego get in the way. For everyone who misses the point, go back and review Super Bowl XXXVI.
  • Lastly, Super Bowl 50 will be played on Sunday, and I'm a Panthers' fan. More accurately, I'm a Jerry Richardson fan, and Richardson is the owner of the Panthers. If pockets of Steelers Nation are undecided about their rooting interest on Sunday, here's why being pro-Richardson is the right thing to be.
  • Back in 2008 when there was a reality the Rooney family could lose controlling interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers to hedge-fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, Richardson was one of the owners who loudly explained that any sale would require 24 yes-votes from NFL ownership all the while promising to work to make sure that never happened.
  • That's enough for me. Go, Panthers.
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