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THE TEACHER
Paul Zimmerman
July 28, 1980
While other NFL coaches revel in being regarded as demigods, Chuck Noll of the Steelers wants to be known as a pedagogue
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July 28, 1980

The Teacher

While other NFL coaches revel in being regarded as demigods, Chuck Noll of the Steelers wants to be known as a pedagogue

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And yet Noll is a man who can make you uneasy. "You know how it is sometimes when you're around a guy you're comfortable with," Artie Rooney says. "You could say five stupid things, and you'd think, 'Boy, I'm dumb to say that.' But it's O.K.; you know he still feels you're a nice guy. Around Chuck I always feel that I have to watch myself, that I don't want to say anything stupid. I mean, I like Chuck, but being with him is almost like being with the toughest professor you ever had in college."

"I've kidded with him at times," Swann says, "but no one kids around with Chuck all the time. You pick your moments, and if you haven't picked a good one, he'll just look at you with no expression and you'll find a way to nod your head and back away."

" Chuck Noll," says Father Benedict Sellers, who teaches Latin and French at Benedictine in Cleveland, where Noll went to high school, "has been given by God the ability to lead men to victory after victory. He's humble about this gift. In a different era he would have been a great battlefield leader, certainly a great religious leader."

Don Shula and George Allen once were asked to give capsule portraits of themselves as coaches to put in a few words the way they would like to be remembered. Each man gave it considerable thought.

"Fair-minded," Shula finally said. "Tried to do things with class. Never knowingly screwed anybody."

"I want to be remembered," Allen said, "as a man who wanted to win so badly that he'd give a year of his life to be a winner."

The same question was put to Noll recently. He smiled. Again, the interpretation of history.

"A teacher," he said. "A person who could adapt to a world of constant change. A person who could adapt to the situation. But most of all a teacher. Put down that I was a teacher."

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