Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Buddy Parker: Aside from the “big 3” head coaches since 1969, Buddy Parker is the only man to win more than 100 games while working the sidelines of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, a former player with the Detroit Lions and Chicago Cardinals where he played as fullback, Parker had much success before Art Rooney hired him in Pittsburgh.
After a mediocre season as the Chicago Bears coach in 1949, the Detroit Lions came calling and with the Lions Parker led them to two straight NFL championships in 1952 and 1953 defeating the Cleveland Browns both times. A third straight trip to the league title game in 1954 resulted in a loss to those same Browns.
"“I can’t win with this bunch of stiffs” Buddy Parker to Art Rooney about his team"
In 1957, Buddy Parker inexplicably resigned as Detroit’s head coach, indicating issues with his players and contract disputes with management for the reason. Art Rooney believed he had a great coach coming in and in fact, Parker finished third in the Eastern Conference twice and second once in his eight seasons. His teams also placed fourth once, fifth twice, and last just once. His final record of 51-47-6 is respectable.
In the end, believing his Steelers teams were getting “old,” he opted to continue as a coach and signed a three-year contract in 1965 but in the ensuing season, with four exhibition game losses, Parker suddenly resigned.
Reportedly, he told Art Rooney the reason for quitting was because, “I can’t win with this bunch of stiffs.” Parker was replaced by Mike Nixon, who would last just one season in 1965. Parker passed away on March 7, 1982, only at 68 years of age following complications following surgery for a ruptured ulcer.
With Mike Nixon serving as head coach for just one season, a campaign that saw the Pittsburgh Steelers drop two of 14 games, Art Rooney Sr. turned to Bill Austin. Austin would make it through three seasons but win just 11 games tying three times but losing 28 games.
Bill Austin like many other coaches was also a player first. An offensive lineman who played college ball at Oregon State, he would play nine seasons with the New York Giants before turning to coaching a year after his retirement as an assistant at Wichita State University.
His first pro coaching role was with the Green Bay Packer as their offensive line coach and then with the Rams in 1965 before taking the head coaching position with Pittsburgh in 1966. After being fired by the Steelers in 1968, Austin continued coaching mostly as an offensive line coach for The Redskins, Bears, Cardinals, Giants, Jets, and a stint in the World Football League with the New Jersey Generals.
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