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NOLL, PAYTON AMONG 5 INDUCTEES ENTERING FOOTBALL’S HALL OF FAME

SHARE NOLL, PAYTON AMONG 5 INDUCTEES ENTERING FOOTBALL’S HALL OF FAME

Chuck Noll says the patience of the Rooney family carried him through his first year as the Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach, enabling him ultimately to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"The game has changed," Noll said Friday, the day before his admission as a member of the hall. "The fans and owners are not the same as they used to be."Noll won his first game as an NFL coach in 1969, then lost the next 13. An owner with a itchy trigger finger might have fired him long before the unlucky 13th.

But the Rooneys waited. Their patience was rewarded with four Super Bowl trophies.

Noll's latest reward comes today, when he joins record-setting Chicago Bears runner Walter Payton, San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, Miami Dolphins offensive guard Larry Little and San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts in the hall.

Noll often is overlooked as one of the game's great minds but said he never has felt left out by the people who matter.

"Left out? Not at all. The players do it. If I've learned one thing in football, it's that you never do anything yourself. It takes a lot of people," he said.

Payton set NFL records with his 3,838 carries, 16,276 yards and 110 touchdowns in 13 years with the Bears. He gained more than 100 yards in a game 77 times and topped 1,000 yards in a season 10 times.

Walsh won Super Bowls in 1982, 1985 and 1989 with the 49ers. The current coach at Stanford University posted a 102-63-1 record in 10 years at San Francisco, where, like Noll, he was known as a canny evaluator of talent.

Little was the building block on which Shula constructed the Dolphins' ground game. The six-time All-Pro paved the way for the Dolphins' Super Bowl victories in 1972 and 1973.

Fouts took over the Chargers' quarterback job in 1973 and passed for 43,040 yards and 254 touchdowns before calling it quits in 1987. He passed for 300 yards or more in a game 51 times.