Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, who died on June 15 due to natural causes, was laid to rest two days later and was honored by the team's greats.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, who passed away on June 15, was buried two days later.
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Jourdon LaBarber and Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote more about the development on June 17:
"Family, friends and Steelers past and present gathered on a sunny morning today at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland to celebrate the life of beloved Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, who passed away from natural causes Friday night.
"'Mean Joe' Greene was among the pallbearers. Other players and former players in attendance included Ben Roethlisberger and Mel Blount. At a small gathering outside the cathedral before the funeral began at 10 a.m., Bount greeted and embraced NFL commissioner Roger S. Goodell.
"Members of the Rooney family, the majority owners of the Steelers, arrived with the funeral procession. As they did, a crowd of passers-by gathered across the street to pay brief respects to the Hall of Fame coach.
"The funeral Mass was led by the Most Rev. David A. Zubik, bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Upon opening the funeral, Zubik requested that those in attendance take time to recall one way Noll had touched their lives.
"For those close to Noll, it was an easy task.
"'Great man, first and foremost,' former Steelers tight end Mike Mularkey said after the funeral. 'What he taught all of us as players, not just on-the-field things, but a lot of life matters that I carry on and I have in my life to this day.
"In his homily, Zubik offered his own personal memory of Noll. He was a young priest in 1979, he said, when he got the idea to request that Noll speak on leadership to a group of high school seniors. To his surprise, Noll accepted the offer on the condition that nobody would know of his coming.
"When Noll's Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl in January 1980 -- a record for a head coach that stands to this day -- Zubik was worried he might lose out on Noll, who was scheduled to speak just a week later. Sure enough, Noll came anyway to speak to the group of students.
"'That was the point of Chuck Noll's life,' Zubik said. 'It didn't matter how important you were, or how valuable you seemed to be in society. In his eyes, everybody was important.'"
LaBarber and Stanley-Becker's colleague at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wesley Lin, spoke with several of Noll's former players as they honored their fallen leader:
"Jon Kolb, an offensive lineman for the Steelers for 13 seasons, said that although he never expected to be able to play again with Mr. Noll, the 'irreversible change' that Mr. Noll's death brought is unsettling to him.
"'The man who put it all together is gone,' he said. 'That's irreversible on this side of heaven.'
"Mr. Kolb spoke of being constantly surprised by Mr. Noll, whom he took to be (a) very serious, curt man. Mr. Knoll knew how to play musical instruments and speak French, and Mr. Kolb recalled team members often trying to come up with topics and items that Mr. Noll didn't know about -- to no avail.
"Lynn Swann, a former wide receiver for the Steelers and Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2006, said Mr. Noll taught the players about preparedness, taking care of one another and sacrifice.
"'It's not always about the individual. It's always about the team,' Mr. Swann said, recalling a lesson that Mr. Noll had taught him.
"He said Mr. Noll had always wanted to win, despite also wanting to live in the moment, Mr. Swann remembered never being able to rest for extended periods of time, because after each final game of the season, training for the next season would start anew.
"It was this mentality that led to Mr. Noll's record-holding four Super Bowl wins in as many attempts as Steelers head coach, according to Mr. Swann and others.
"Robin Cole, former Steelers linebacker for 12 seasons, said Mr. Noll was adept at bringing people together, whether it was assembling a large Steelers Nation fan base -- 'the thing that's kept all this together' -- or by helping establish a sense of family among team members.
"'I love him for the man he is,' Mr. Cole said."
Noll coached in the NFL from 1971-1991, spending his entire tenure with the Steelers. He amassed an overall head coaching record of 193-148 (.566), per Pro-Football-Reference.com.
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