Noll might have rebuilt Bills

Did you know Chuck Noll considered coaching the Bills in 1969? Noll served as defensive coordinator for Don Shula's Baltimore Colts team, which had just lost to the Jets, 16-7, in Super Bowl III. After the game, Buffalo and New England offered Noll head coaching positions, but he instead chose to coach Pittsburgh, where he eventually built and led the team to four Super Bowl wins – still the most of any coach in NFL history.

Buffalo hired John Rauch from the Raiders, and he posted a 7-20-1 record during two seasons with the team. Noll obviously would have been better. He coached Pittsburgh for 24 years, and he was there when Bills vice president and general manager Tom Donahoe got his NFL start with the team in 1986.

Noll's philosophies of building an NFL team certainly helped craft the strategies Donahoe implemented in re-building the Steelers in the ‘90s and now the Bills in the ‘00s. Donahoe emphasizes the NFL Draft, something that Noll emphasized as well.

"People would call me up and want to trade veteran players to us," said Noll. "It didn't take me long to figure out that everyone wanted to give us their problems. Well, that's not what I wanted. I wanted to bring people in, get them in our system and not get someone else's problems."

From 1969 to 1974, Noll drafted eight Hall of Famers: Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Mike Webster, John Stallworth, Jack Lambert and Lynn Swann.

Noll had a keen eye for talent and an infinite ability to mold that into great football teams.

Donahoe, of course, is assembling a team in the free agency era. That's a different challenge all together. He only has seven draft picks this year, and he's signed 22 free agents to fill out Buffalo's roster. It's a different time, but look for Donahoe to get some more picks this April through trade-downs. Donahoe knows the draft is an NFL team's lifeblood.

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