Chuck Noll subject of O’Brien’s latest book

Published Nov 6, 2013 at 6:31 am (Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm)

Often referred to as legendary because of his four Super Bowl wins in as many tries, former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll had yet to be the subject of a book. Author Jim O’Brien wanted to fill that gap and thus wrote his latest book: “Chuck Noll, a Winning Way.”

“It’s the first book ever written exclusively on him,” O’Brien said. This latest title is O’Brien’s 25th book and the 22nd he’s written on the subject of Pittsburgh sports.

Noll coached the Steelers from 1969 to 1991. The 81-year-old Noll is a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame. He implemented the famous “Steel Curtain” defense in the 1970s.

“It’s really something of an underground book,” O’Brien said. “I feel like my fingerprint is on every page.”

Over the course of many years, O’Brien interviewed Noll several times. It is those conversations that are the source of much of the content in the 640-page book, which includes 32 pages of color photographs.

“People can’t believe there hasn’t been a book about him. I thought it was time,” O’Brien said. “I have stories I’ve been carrying around with me for 50 or 60 years.”

Of Noll, O’Brien said, “I always thought he was a very bright man. He was thoughtful.”

O’Brien added that Noll hasn’t been interviewed by anyone in the past five years because of his deteriorating health, and that his interviews were conducted several years ago.

“He doesn’t waste words,” O’Brien said of his past conversations with Noll.

Several years ago when Noll lived in Upper St. Clair, O’Brien visited him at his house near Eisenhower Elementary School. O’Brien also visited Noll at his former home in Sewickley.

“He never sought attention,” O’Brien said, adding the Steelers that Noll coached in the 1970s “really were a special breed.”

Interviews with those players from the 1970s, including Rocky Bleier, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Greene, along with photos are in the book.

Written in larger typeface so it is easy to read, the chapters can be read in any order. The book is appropriate for all ages.

“I’m a storyteller,” said O’Brien. The Upper St. Clair resident also joked, “I’m a teacher disguised as a sports writer.”

O’Brien, who is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, teaches a monthly writing course at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair. His next class will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. Nov. 12.

“Chuck Noll, A Winning Way” can be purchased directly from O’Brien. Visit www.jimobriensportsauthor.com. The book can also be found at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley and at the Heinz History Center.

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