Chuck Knox

Chuck Knox
Personal information
Date of birth: (1932-04-27) April 27, 1932
Place of birth: Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Career information
High school: Leetsdale (PA) Quaker Valley
College: Juniata College
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season: 186–147 (.559)
Postseason: 7–11 (.389)
Career: 193–158 (.550)
Coaching stats at PFR

Charles Robert Knox (born April 27, 1932) is a former American football coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. He is best remembered as head coach of three National Football League (NFL) teams, the Los Angeles Rams (twice), Seattle Seahawks, and Buffalo Bills.

Early life

Knox was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Whenever Knox felt something was common sense, he would say it was "eighth-grade Sewickley."[1]

The son of a steel worker who had emigrated from Ireland and a Scottish-born mother,[2] Knox developed into a 190-pound (86 kg) tackle at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, playing on both sides of the ball and serving as co-captain of the 1953 unit, the first undefeated team in school history. He also competed in track and graduated in 1954.

Early coaching career

Knox then served as an assistant at Juniata that fall. He stayed in the Keystone State the following year as an assistant coach at Tyrone High School, then began the first of three years as head coach at Ellwood City High School in 1956. During his first year at Ellwood, Knox had just 18 players, but by his final year, 85 players were on the squad.

Building on his success, Knox then moved back to the colleges, serving two seasons as an assistant under Paul Amen at Wake Forest University in 1959. He then joined Blanton Collier's staff at the University of Kentucky in 1961, and stayed the following year under new mentor Charlie Bradshaw. In both these places, Knox learned the concepts of organization, discipline and a focus on fundamentals. While at Kentucky, Knox was on the staff of Bradshaw's infamous first team, which was known forever as the Thin Thirty.

On May 8, 1963, he was hired as offensive line coach of the American Football League's New York Jets by head coach Weeb Ewbank. Over the next four years as the lead contact for recruiting quarterback, Joe Namath, Knox helped build a line that would protect Namath, eventually leading to a victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Unfortunately for Knox, by voluntarily leaving the Jets in 1967 he denied himself what would have been the only Super Bowl ring in his career as the Jets won the World Championship in 1968.

Knox then moved to the Detroit Lions on February 13, 1967 under new head coach Joe Schmidt, spending six seasons in the Motor City. Despite some impressive stretches, the Lions only reached the postseason once during this period, losing a 5-0 road contest to the Dallas Cowboys in 1970. However, Knox developed effectively cohesive offensive lines and developed pass-blocking techniques that are now standard in blocking fundamentals. Additionally, he proved a progressive coach by playing Bill Cottrell, an African American, at center. "There was an unwritten rule back then", said Cottrell in Hard Knox: The Life of an NFL Coach. "No black quarterbacks, no black middle linebackers, no black centers." Because of Knox's liberal views and ability to relate to players on such a personal level, African American players nicknamed him, "Dolomite."

Head coaching career

When Tommy Prothro was dismissed on January 24, 1973, Knox was hired as head coach of the Rams.

Sometimes referred to as 'Ground Chuck' for his team's emphasis on its rushing attack, Knox used a comeback year by veteran quarterback John Hadl to lead the Rams to a 12-2 record during his first season, winning the NFC West title. Knox earned NFC Coach of the Year honors, but in the first round of the playoffs, the team lost to the Cowboys, beginning what would be a frustrating string of play-off defeats for Knox.

John Hadl became the 1973 NFC Most Valuable Player under Knox, proof that the passing dimension of his offense was as significant as the run game in his system. Six games into the 1974 season, Knox traded John Hadl, whose performance had diminished from his MVP '73 season, to the Green Bay Packers for an unprecedented two first round picks, two second round picks and a third round pick. Knox started James Harris for the remainder of the 1974 season. Harris became the NFL's first African American regular quarterback. Despite two and a half successful seasons, including a 12 and 2 record in 1975 with Harris under center, Some Rams fans remained critical of Harris' play. Eventually, Coach Knox, under pressure from owner Carroll Rosenbloom, was forced to bench Harris in favor of Pat Haden.

Under Knox the Rams won five straight NFC West championships. However each season they faltered in the playoffs. They lost three consecutive NFC Championship games from 1974 to 1976, two of them to the Minnesota Vikings. In the team's rainy first round home playoff game against the Vikings on December 26, 1977, quarterback Pat Haden was having problems handling the wet ball and moving the team. Joe Namath was warming up in preparation for what seemed to be a Hollywood ending in the making, but Knox hesitated and the Rams lost again in what was subsequently called the "Mud Bowl", 14-7. That was it as far as owner Carroll Rosenbloom was concerned and Knox got out before he could get fired. In five seasons as the Rams head coach the team had won five straight NFC West titles with five different starting quarterbacks (John Hadl, Ron Jaworski, Pat Haden, James Harris, and Joe Namath) and had a regular season record of 54-15-1 but a play-off record of only 3-5.

On January 11, 1978, Knox left the Rams to sign a $1.2 million, six-year contract with the Bills. The move was in response to the continuing conflict between Knox and team owner Carroll Rosenbloom, with Knox taking over a team that had won five of 28 games during the previous two seasons.

In his first year (under the new 16-game schedule), Knox led the Bills to a 5-11 mark. Just two years later, the Bills won the AFC East title with an 11-5 record, but dropped a close battle with the high-powered San Diego Chargers in the divisional playoffs. The following year, his team defeated the Jets in a wild card clash, but then fell to the Cincinnati Bengals. After a 4-5 strike-shortened season in 1982, Knox failed to come to terms on a new contract with team owner Ralph Wilson, and left to accept the head coaching position with the Seahawks on January 26, 1983.

During his first year in the Northwest, Knox led the team to its first playoff berth, beat the Denver Broncos 31-7 in the wildcard game and then upset the Miami Dolphins 27-20 in the Orange Bowl in the second round. However, the dream died in the AFC Championship game when the Seahawks fell to the Los Angeles Raiders 30-14. Subsequent seasons would see the Seahawks remain competitive, but did not reach a conference championship game again during his tenure, despite winning Seattle's first AFC West Division Title in 1988.

After nine years with Seattle, Knox left on December 27, 1991, having become the first NFL head coach to win division titles with three different teams. Looking to recapture the magic of two decades earlier, Knox returned to the Rams as head coach in 1992. While his tenure saw Jerome Bettis blossom into a star, his teams finished last in the NFC West in each of his three seasons. Additionally, his run-oriented offense was considered too predictable by 1990s NFL standards. He was fired on January 9, 1995.

Knox retired with a mark of 186 wins, 147 losses and 1 tie record, with his son, Chuck, Jr., keeping the family's name alive as an NFL assistant coach, most recently as defensive backs coach of the Minnesota Vikings until 2006.

In 2005, Knox donated $1 million to his alma mater, Juniata, to endow a chair in history, his major at the school. The donation was the largest of many contributions by Knox, with the institution renaming the school's football stadium in his honor in 1998. Quaker Valley High School in Knox's hometown of Sewickley, Pennsylvania has also named its football stadium in his honor

In reporting about Knox's $1 million donation, the Seattle Times noted that Knox has been extremely generous in donating substiantial money to Juniata and his old high school. The Times also noted that Knox left the games before coaches were paid the large sum of salaries common today and reporters asked whether he was donating away a substantial amount of his retirement fund.

Knox answered the reporters this way: "sure it is (a lot of money).....that's what it was going to take to do it"

On September 25, 2005 at age 73, Knox was inducted into the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor at Qwest Field in Seattle and is regularly under consideration for nomination into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In 2015, the Professional Football Researchers Association named Knox to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2015 [3]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won LostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
LA1973 1220.8571st in NFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Divisional Game.
LA1974 1040.7141st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Minnesota Vikings in NFC Championship.
LA1975 1220.8571st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Dallas Cowboys in NFC Championship.
LA1976 1031.7691st in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Minnesota Vikings in NFC Championship.
LA1977 1040.7141st in NFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Minnesota Vikings in Divisional Game.
BUF1978 5110.3134th in AFC East - - - -
BUF1979 790.4384th in AFC East - - - -
BUF1980 1150.6881st in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to San Diego Chargers in Divisional Game.
BUF1981 1060.6253rd in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Cincinnati Bengals in Divisional Game.
BUF1982 450.4444th in AFC East - - - -
BUF Total37360.507 1 2 .333 -
SEA1983 970.5632nd in AFC West 2 1 .667 Lost to Los Angeles Raiders in AFC Championship.
SEA1984 1240.7502nd in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Miami Dolphins in Divisional Game.
SEA1985 880.5003rd in AFC West - - - -
SEA1986 1060.6252nd in AFC West - - - -
SEA1987 960.6002nd in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Houston Oilers in Wild Card Game.
SEA1988 970.5631st in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Cincinnati Bengals in Divisional Game.
SEA1989 790.4384th in AFC West - - - -
SEA1990 970.5633rd in AFC West - - - -
SEA1991 790.4384th in AFC West - - - -
SEA Total80630.559 3 4 .429 -
LA1992 970.5632nd in NFC West - - - -
LA1993 790.4383rd in NFC West - - - -
LA1994 790.4383rd in NFC West - - - -
LA Total69481.589 3 5 .375 -
NFL Total[4]1861471.558 7 11 .389
Total1861471.558 7 11 .389 -

See also


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