A former National Football League head coach who was both famed among his players and feared among opponents passed away on Saturday and left millions of fans heartbroken.
Chuck Knox, who coached the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks to numerous winning seasons from the 1970s to 1990s, passed away at the age of 86 after a long battle with dementia.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Knox was born in 1932 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, played football at Juniata College and then went on to coach his alma mater before moving up to coach in the NFL.
Fans and players recall that Knox brought a Western Pennsylvania, blue-collar ethos of gritty determination with him to the NFL, which earned him widespread respect.
“Chuck Knox had that John Wayne thing, where you knew he was the guy in charge,” stated Dave Krieg, who quarterbacked the Seahawks under Knox.
“You were going to do things his way, old-school Pennsylvania style,” Krieg added. “But he also had a proven track record, so that gave our team confidence. He let you know who was the boss.”
Knox also earned the nickname “Ground Chuck,” both because of the power running game his teams focused on as well as what his teams’ opponents would feel like after battling on the field for four quarters.
“We wore it as a medal of honor,” stated former L.A. Rams Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater. “The nickname ‘Ground Chuck’ spoke volumes for the men that he fielded.”
“Because when you say `Ground Chuck,’ you’re basically saying to a defense, ‘Hey, you guys better get ready, dig in, put your hands on the ground, because this is what we’re going to do to you,'” Slater added.
Slater also said of Knox, “I never had a guy that breathed intensity into a group of men before kickoff as well as he did.”
Coach Knox not only led all three teams he coached to successful winning seasons more often than not, he also earned the league’s top honor, coach of the year, with all three clubs.
The coach will no doubt be sorely missed by his family, friends and former players, and we send out our sincere condolences to all of them.