Sports Briefs 6-15-14

BARRY WILNER AP Pro Football Writer Published:

Chuck Noll was a no-nonsense coach, and his Pittsburgh Steelers followed his lead to win four Super Bowls.

Noll, who died Friday of natural causes at 82, wasn't an entertainer or a charmer when it came to football. He was a winner, the only man to coach four Super Bowl champions, building a dynasty in Pittsburgh for a franchise that hadn't won an NFL title before he arrived in 1969.

"When Chuck became our head coach he brought a change to the whole culture of the organization," Steelers President Art Rooney said Saturday. "Even in his first season when we won only one game, there was a different feel to the team. He set a new standard for the Steelers that still is the foundation of what we do and who we are. From the players to the coaches to the front office down to the ball boys, he taught us all what it took to be a winner."

Noll was a sharp strategist, brilliant evaluator of personnel and strong motivator.

"He was the glue," said former linebacker Jack Ham, a Hall of Famer like Noll -- and so many members of those Steelers teams. "He was the guy that got all of us to buy into how to win a championship. He took the lead.

"Preparation. He always felt you don't win games on Sunday at 1 p.m., you win games in your preparation on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at practice. I think we all bought into that."

While Noll's success on the sideline -- a 209-156-1 record in 23 seasons -- defined him professionally, football did not dominate his existence. Indeed, he insisted that everyone around him have hobbies and enjoy life away from the field.

Noll was a licensed pilot who flew himself and assistant coaches on scouting trips. He was a wine connoisseur and enjoyed cooking. He had a passion for jazz.

Dungy remembers a scouting trip to New Orleans with Noll during which they hit many memorable restaurants and jazz spots. Dungy thought he was about to be elevated to defensive coordinator, but they were so busy in the Big Easy he never asked Noll if he was getting the job.

Dungy finally found out he got the position when they returned to Pittsburgh.

• Football

Surgery for top pick: Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft by the Houston Texans, is recovering from sports hernia surgery.

Coach Bill O'Brien disclosed the procedure and said Clowney had been struggling with a groin issue. O'Brien said the standout from South Carolina was sent to a specialist in Philadelphia. The surgery was performed Thursday. O'Brien expects Clowney to be ready for training camp, which begins in late July.

Lions cut Houston: The Detroit Lions cut cornerback Chris Houston one year into his $25 million, five-year contract.

Houston, who had foot surgery, was limited to 12 games last season because of toe and foot injuries. The ailments appeared to hurt his play when he was on the field. Houston had not attended offseason workouts so far this year under new coach Jim Caldwell.

Chiefs release Flowers: The Chiefs released cornerback Brandon Flowers, shortly after finishing up three weeks of voluntary workouts in which the former starter was conspicuously absent.

Kansas City has been bumping up against the salary cap, so the move to part ways with Flowers was largely expected. He was due to make $5.25 million this season, and the former starter carried a salary cap number of $10.5 million next season.

Church boycotting Redskins: A major sector of the United Church of Christ is calling for a boycott of the Washington Redskins until the team changes its name.

The Central Atlantic Conference passed a resolution Saturday to become the latest organization to denounce a name that has frequently been condemned as a racial slur.

The conference said it will urge its 40,000 members in D.C., New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and parts of Virginia and West Virginia to boycott the team's games and merchandise.

• Elsewhere

Reds call up Latos: The Cincinnati Reds have activated pitcher Mat Latos from the 60-day DL to start Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Latos will make his 2014 debut after right elbow and left knee surgeries kept him out to open the season. Latos was 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four minor league rehab starts. He went 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA last year for Cincinnati.

USOC pondering bids: An American bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics would come from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Washington if the U.S. Olympic Committee decides to put a city in the running.

A process that began 16 months ago when the USOC sent letters to leaders in 35 cities is now at four finalists after Dallas and San Diego were scratched from the list. Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. Boston, San Francisco and Washington would be first-time hosts.

Over the next seven months, the USOC will decide whether it even wants to try to host the Olympics, with the deadline for deciding expected in early 2015.

Detroit park restored: The United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Co. have given nearly $2 million to restore a Detroit neighborhood ballpark.

WXYZ-TV reports a cleaner, safer and completely refurbished Balduck Park was unveiled Saturday. The event drew Detroit Tigers players Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis and Torii Hunter.

Charles donating half of salary: Liberty center Tina Charles is donating half of her WNBA salary to a charity she started to honor an aunt who died of multiple organ failure last year.

Charles has already raised $48,000 for Hopey's Heart Foundation to purchase 100 automatic external defibrillators (AEDS). She'll donate approximately $50,000 of her salary, which is about $100,000 per season. Charles is in her first season with the Liberty after coming to New York in a trade in April. She's also donating tickets to Liberty home games to local community groups.

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