PHOTO PROVIDED BY UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH PRESS, COURTESY OF THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS.

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons




Chuck Noll was far more than a football coach. He engaged in discussions, if not heated debates, about politics and more at the office. He mastered many avocations: snorkeling, boating, piloting planes, relishing fine wines, even conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Two years before the death of the intensely private Noll in 2014, Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney and the Noll family embraced award-winning author Michael MacCambridge to share his story. MacCambridge draws on access to family albums and footage, team highlights, extensive interviews and peeks behind curtains heretofore drawn tight to craft “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” the definitive, full-length biography of the man recognized by many, known by few.

Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to offer this exclusive excerpt of MacCambridge’s upcoming book, scheduled for release in October by University of Pittsburgh Press. This snapshot relates the pivotal 1974 season, in which the detailed, complex Noll pushed the precise buttons amid considerable turbulence — a players’ strike, three different starting quarterbacks and more. Steelers players remember the one time Noll delivered anything close to a rousing speech — a motivational rarity — and it spurred them to greatness. Noll left a legacy in Pittsburgh that endures still, teaching his team, a flagging steel region and a burgeoning Steelers Nation how to win after generations of abject organizational failure.

In a conversation with Pittsburgh Magazine’s Mike Prisuta, MacCambridge provides a glimpse of how this long-awaited biography came to be. If you seek true knowledge, the depth of detail that the educator in Noll so appreciated and the full fans’ appreciation of coach and team — well, here we go.


All photos provided by University of Pittsburgh Press, from the forthcoming book "Chuck Noll: His Life's Work," by Michael McCambridge.

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Book Excerpt: Head of the Class

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