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Vermeil on Noll: 'He was a special coach'

Sunday, September 7, was designated Chuck Noll Day by Pennsylvania's United States Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey. Noll died on June 13, 2014 at the age of 82. The Steelers will honor Coach Noll's memory when they host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on Sept. 7, for the first time wearing the helmet decal they will wear all season to honor Noll. *All week will also honor Noll's memory, with stories and videos, including the following former NFL Coaches talking about Noll.    

*Dick Vermeil was one of Chuck Noll's colleagues, a member of the NFL coaching fraternity from 1976-2005, with many stops along the way.

One thing that Vermeil learned was that you can gain valuable knowledge from others in the game, that there are lessons from some of the great men that you compete against on a regular basis that can help you in your career. Foremost among those coaches was Noll.

"Chuck Noll set the standards for what was considered greatness in the coaching profession," said Vermeil. "He had influence and impact, and he was an infectious leader and teacher. You could not disrespect his talents. He was magnificent. The people that had to coach against him didn't like him that much because it was a negative on their side (laughing), but you have to put him among the two to three finest coaches ever."

Vermeil actually leaned on Noll when his St. Louis Rams took on the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Because of icy weather which gripped the Georgia area during the week, the Rams arrived at the Georgia Dome four hours before kickoff. As Vermeil sat around the locker room, nervously awaiting the normal pregame routine to get going, he picked up the phone.

"I was sitting there and was nervous so I called Chuck and talked to him," recalled Vermeil. "I called him and he counseled me and gave me some guidance."

It wasn't the first time he reached out to Noll, who won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. He did the same thing earlier in his career when he led the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XV.

"I would call him from time to time and ask him for advice because he was a teacher," said Vermeil. "He was a born teacher, even teaching the enemy as a bonus. He never withheld information. I had great respect for him. He helped me in my career."

Former Coach Marv Levy shares a special bond with Noll, as both are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a tight knit group where respect is plentiful and Levy always had plenty for Noll.

"He was a special coach for reasons that set a great example for other coaches," said Levy. "If I had to oversimplify and define it there are three qualities.  First, the ability to teach and by that I mean to convey, get across, get your players to buy in and believe. Second is the ability to work well with others in the organization. The Steelers organization is one I have great regard for. Chuck worked well with the people in the personnel department and that is why they were able to bring in and nurture the outstanding players that they had. And third I always felt every special coach is a straight shooter, he honors the game. Chuck Noll embodied all of those qualities.

"I am so honored to say one of my compatriots was Chuck Noll."

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