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Former Steelers Assistant George Perles Dies at 85

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Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach George Perles died on Tuesday at the age of 85.

Perles was a Detroit native and was living at home in Lansing, Michigan at the time of his death. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

A Michigan State alum, Perles was also the head coach at his alma mater from 1983-94, amassing a 68-67-4 all-time record and winning three Big Ten titles.


But in Pittsburgh, Perles will be remembers as one of the architects of the Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s.

Chuck Noll hired Perles in 1972 to be the Steelers’ defensive line coach, preceding the franchise’s all-time greatest run of play. The Steelers won five AFC Central division titles in six years with Perles coaching all-time greats like Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Earl Holmes and Dwight White on the Steelers’ defensive line.

In 1978, Perles was promoted to defensive coordinator and in 1979, he added assistant head coach to his resume. He stayed in Pittsburgh through the 1982 season, winning four Super Bowls as an assistant.

In his time at Michigan State, Perles mentored young coaches Nick Saban and Pat Shurmur, who went on to coach in the NFL. He remained on the Michigan State board of trustees until 2018.

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