On June 13, 2014, former NFL player and Hall of Fame head coach Charles Henry "Chuck" Noll died at 82. Noll coached the Pittsburgh Steelers between 1969 and 1991.

As soon as Noll died, keyboard jocks at, the official mouthpiece of the NFL, fired up a stories about Noll — Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll diesChuck Noll's low profile belies lasting legacy, and this gem, Woodson: Noll in conversation as NFL's greatest coach

This "he was the best" or "he was the second best" foolery ought to stop. It's lame.

Equally bad are claims alike to this: "Noll, who won four Super Bowls ..." In reality, Noll did not win. Noll coached four different teams for the same franchise, each team having won a Super Bowl. Noll didn't step on the field with those players. Those players won.

Always, in these vacuous debates about the "best coach," Vince Lombardi gets named, often praised as the best. Lombardi coached between 1959 and 1969, seasons which fall in the second era of football.

No one knows if Lombardi would even coach a winning season today. The league in this era is far from the second era.

The NFL can been seen having four eras. Comparing coaching and players from era proves to be folly. Here are the eras:

Era before Radovich v. National Football League (352 U.S. 445, 1957) 
[ Before 1958 ]

  • blacklisting of players who agitated for better pay
  • no pay for pre-season
  • no legal agents
  • no free agency

Era between Radovich v. NFL, the first CBA (1968) and the Strike/Lockout and CBA of 1974
[ 1958 - 1974 ]

  • a league minimum salary of $5,000, $50 for each exhibition game played, and
  •  medical and hospital coverage (1968)
  • minimum salaries of $12,500 for rookies and $13,000 for veterans. 
  • improved players' pensions (1970)
  • dental care (1970) 
  • player representation on the league's retirement board (1970) 
  • right to impartial arbitration for injury grievances (1970)
  • Rozelle Rule hampering free agency

Era between 1975 and 1993 CBA
[ 1975 - 1993 ]
  • Rozelle Rule invalidated
  • limited free agency — draft picks awarded based on the salary of the departing free agent, franchises' right of first refusal
  • severance packages to players upon retirement (1982)
  • an increase in salaries and post-season pay  (1982)
  • bonuses based on the number of seasons played  (1982)
  • NFLPA to receive copies of all player contracts
  • legal end to "Plan B" free agency (1993)

Era from the 1993 CBA 
[ 1994 - Now ]
  • unrestricted free agency
  • salary cap
  • minimum payrolls 
So who coached the most championship teams in each era? That is what you should know. Now you can know.

The winning coaches by era are these:

  • Curly Lambeau, 6 championships, era 1
  • Vince Lombardi, 5 championships, era 2 
  • Joe Gibbs, 3 championships, 1 conference championship, era 3
  • Bill Belichick, 3 championships, 2 conference championships, era 4

Do eras matter? Only if you believe eras do, then eras matter. Do these records matter? Only if you believe these records matter, then these records matter to you.

Note that reigning success Bill Belichick could not coach winners in era 3. Joe Gibbs could not coach winners in era 4.

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