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CARL KOLOGIE: Sharing Noll memories

by on July 06, 2014 1:55 AM

There are sports fans and then there are those who think they are sports fans.

This prompts a story that I have told many times over concerning one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Football League.

Chuck Noll, who passed away a few weeks ago, took over as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969 and in his 22-year tenure guided them from perennial doormats to four-time Super Bowl champions.

Consider that Noll is a Hall of Famer and the only coach in the history of the NFL to win the Super Bowl four times. He registered 209 victories in Pittsburgh before he retired in 1991.

And although this story occurred early in his career, he was still the toast of the city of Pittsburgh and the Steelers had just won Super Bowl IX the year before.

Sam Bechtel, a former sports editor at the Gazette, was covering the Steelers for his hometown newspaper, the Beaver County Times.

He invited me and my wife at that time, Sonia, to join him and his wife, Chris, at the American Football League Conference Championship game party held in the Allegheny Room of Three Rivers Stadium the night before the game.

It was exciting, especially to me, as most of the AFC team owners, major media and most of the who’s who in the NFL were in attendance. And that included Lamar Hunt, of the Kansas City Chiefs, who, the championship trophy is named after.

We met Sam and Chris in the lobby and upon entering the elevator to the Allegheny Room we were introduced, by Sam, to “The Chief,” Art Rooney Sr. and his wife, Kathleen.

Upon entering the crowded Allegheny Room, Sam and I couldn’t turn our heads without seeing a sports celebrity.

Meanwhile, our wives were busy identifying Pittsburgh television newscasters and other locals who were regularly featured on TV.

Sam motioned us to meet a couple he was in conversation with.

By way of introduction, he said, “I would like you to meet Chuck Noll and his wife, Marianne.”

After a polite shaking of hands and cordial hellos, Sonia innocently asked, “And what do you do?”

While Sam and I were looking for a hole to crawl into, Chuck Noll got a big grin on his face and you could tell by his smile and reaction he wanted to say, “You really don’t know, do you?”

We all laughed about it and, being the true gentleman he was, Noll could only joke about the question.

I was fortunate enough to be a member of the media and covered the Steelers and Chuck Noll in their glory years of the ’70s and ’80s.

This is one of my favorite Chuck Noll stories.

o o o

Well, the weatherman certainly cooperated over the Fourth of July weekend and the fireworks at both Coral-Graceton and the Mack Park Fairgrounds drew extremely large crowds, according to all reports.

And the boaters at Two Lick Lake also enjoyed the three-day weekend.

Personally, I think the lake, where I spent most of the day on Friday, is one of Indiana’s treasures. And it is only about a driver and wedge from downtown Indiana.



Carl Kologie is a columnist for The Indiana Gazette.
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