Steel Curtain: Pioneering The Dominant Defense
In 1969, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a struggling franchise at a crossroads. A controversial decision was made to hire a little known assistant coach named Chuck Noll as the new head coach. Noll had previously played in the NFL for the rival Cleveland Browns for six years and had been an assistant with the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Colts.
Upon taking over the helm, Noll realized that the Steelers needed a defensive approach that could control the line of scrimmage. In his very first draft with the Steelers, Noll sent this message loud and clear by drafting North Texas lineman, Mean Joe Greene with the fourth overall pick.Is this new to you? Catch up here Later, in the tenth round, Noll would find gold again by drafting defensive lineman L.C. Greenwood of Arkansas AM&N. The defensive line was not complete, however, until 1972. In the draft of 1971, Noll used a fourth round pick to take East Texas State lineman Dwight White. Then in 1972, Texas Southern lineman Ernie Holmes was grabbed with an eighth round pick.
In 1972, Greene, Greenwood, White and Holmes would join forces to create the Steel Curtain. In the end possibly the most dominating defense in the history of the NFL.