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Sports world sends condolences after 'Ground Chuck' dies at 86

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One of the iconic coaches of the past 50 years, Chuck Knox, died Saturday at the age of 86 after a long battle with dementia.

Knox was a head coach for 22 years in the NFL, including stints with the Rams (twice), the Seahawks and the Bills.

Knox, called “Ground Chuck” due to his preference to run the ball, was born in football country, Sewickley, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. He played tackle at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, then went on to a career in coaching.

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Knox coached in high school before becoming an assistant in college at Wake Forest and Kentucky. From there, Knox went to the pros, coaching as an assistant for the Jets, Colts and Lions before landing his first head coaching job with Los Angeles in 1973.

He burst on the scene in 1973, going 12-2 with the Rams and leading them to five straight NFC West titles. They made it to two NFC championship games, but lost both.

“We are saddened by the loss of Chuck Knox, a legendary coach and member of the Los Angeles Rams family. He established a winning culture and a legacy that will never be forgotten, being the only coach to lead the Rams to five consecutive double-digit-win seasons. The memories and accomplishments that Coach Knox left behind will continue to inspire us and Rams fans. We hold his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” the Rams said in a statement.

Knox went on to coach Buffalo from 1978 to 1982, where he had two winning seasons and led the Bills to two playoff appearances.

His longest tenure was with the Seahawks, whom he coached from 1983 to 1991. In his first year in Seattle, the Seahawks advanced to the AFC title game (they were in the AFC at the time), losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Raiders.

“The Seahawks family is saddened by the loss of Chuck Knox, and our deepest sympathies are extended to his wife, Shirley, and the entire Knox family,” the Seahawks said in a statement. “His presence projects an external toughness, but merited instantaneous respect by the genuine care and concern he held for his players. He was one of the great influences not only in football, but in life.”

Knox, who went 80-63 in Seattle, is the second-winningest coach in team history behind Mike Holmgren, who had 86 victories. (Current coach Pete Carroll is third at 79.)

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“He was successful everywhere he went for a long, long period of time,” said Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent, who played for Knox in Seattle.

“I really enjoyed playing for him. He was a guy who just commanded respect, and you gave it to him. But at the same time, he really was a players’ coach. He was a guy who appreciated the guys who played for him and he really went out of his way to accommodate players, whether that was through certain plays he would call or through the practice schedule or whatever,” Largent said.

Knox finished his career back where he started, with the Rams, where he coached from 1992 to 1994 before retiring.

He had winning records everywhere he coached. In Los Angeles, he was 69-48, in Buffalo he was 37-36, and in Seattle he was 80-63. In his career, he was 186-147.

Knox was named Coach of the Year three times — in 1973 with the Rams, in 1980 with the Bills, and in 1984 with the Seahawks.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Shirley, as well as three children and six grandchildren.

Knox was known to have a way with words, as Clare Farrnsworth at Seahawks.com wrote in his tribute to the coach. One of his most famous “Knox-isms,” wrote Farnsworth, was, “What you do speaks so well, there’s no need to hear what you say.”

Chuck Knox definitely did what he did very well. Our condolences to his family.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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