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Jon Kolb

What are the attributes of greatness? Superior strength, intelligence, courage, humility, compassion, purpose and gratitude are surely some of them but may fall short in describing former Steeler Jon Kolb.

Kolb weighed only 120 pounds in ninth grade while attending Owasso High School in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Due to his slight stature, he was not issued a football uniform.
“In Oklahoma, if you do not become a football player by the time you’re in the ninth grade, your parents will put you up for adoption and find a kid who can play,” Kolb joked in a recent interview.

Instead of giving up, Kolb turned to a higher power. He read a book by Bill Glass, a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns. In the book, Glass talks about if God would make him an All-American, Glass would become a pastor.

“I wanted to play so badly, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll go for that.’ Ironically, that’s about the time I started growing. I gained 30 pounds a year and that’s a God thing. Genetically, I shouldn’t have grown because my dad is 5’7”,” explained Kolb.

Kolb achieved all-state honors during his senior year of high school. Skeptics within his community did not realize that Kolb had inadvertently been preparing for his success throughout his upbringing.

“My dad worked in the oil fields. He grew up on those derricks doing handstands and flag poles going up on the bulkhead of that thing. He had me walk on my hands, doing backflips and stuff like that,” said Kolb, who grew up on a farm with a labor-intensive lifestyle.
Kolb went on to play center at Oklahoma State University. He received football honors and was named All-American during the 1968 season.

During his college days, Kolb had friends who were killed in the Vietnam War. These losses greatly impacted Kolb as a catalyst to his spiritual introspection.
“The Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Oklahoma is pretty big, and I was going to the meetings,” said Kolb.

Kolb added that two Bible verses impacted him.

“In First Thessalonians 5:23, it says ‘And may the God of peace himself,’ and it uses the word ‘sanctify.’ That caused a problem because when the pastors say sanctify, they shake. I thought it was some kind of electrical word, and I didn’t want to get ‘sanctified.’ I didn’t want to shake. But sanctify means to be center court, and that’s what we’re trying to do in a sport anyway. I’m training every day. I never miss a day of training because I want to do this sports stuff, but the other two things: my brains were just enough to get by at that time, and from a spiritual standpoint, I was just not trying to be all I could be. First Corinthians, Chapter 9 says, ‘Don’t you realize that in a race, everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize,’ and he says run to win.” said Kolb making a personal vow to excel physically, mentally and spiritually.

Beginning his sophomore year and throughout his college career, Kolb was scouted and received letters from the majority of National Football League teams interested in drafting him.

One missing letter of interest created an embarrassing interaction that Kolb vividly remembers.

“By the time they had the draft, I’d heard from every team except the Steelers. But that was okay because they were not winning anything anyway. So, the day of the draft, when the Steelers called, I thought somebody was playing a trick on me. It was Mr. Rooney, the owner of the Steelers, and he’s a very gracious man, a very humble gracious man. And I was rude to him because I didn’t think it was really the Steelers. That night, I thought I hadn’t been drafted because nobody else called.”

That night when he turned on the television to see who was drafted, he heard “And Jon Kolb is going to the Steelers.”

“I called the next day and [Mr. Rooney] was so gracious and laughing. When they flew me to Pittsburgh, he was sitting on a park bench, waiting for me to get out of the car at training camp. That was just Mr. Rooney. When I was coaching with the Steelers, he would come in, and I was still apologizing twenty-five years later for being rude,” said Kolb.
Kolb’s gridiron success with the Steelers was that of a tackle protecting Terry Bradshaw’s blind side and opening holes for Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. He was part of four Super Bowl teams, started in 138 games, and was dedicated to demonstrating his best and maximizing his potential.
“I read a book by Patrick Morley. Somewhere in the middle of the book he said, ‘the process is the purpose, the goal is to a relationship, and the plan is God’s.’ I was playing when I read that book, and I still think about it. I don’t think there’s a week that goes by I don’t think about it. It’s the process and if you’re playing a season of football, it is not about the Super Bowl ring. It’s the process. And Chuck Noll, [Steeler’s head coach], was a big process guy. In fact, we didn’t even know we were getting a Super Bowl ring,” said Kolb reflecting on Superbowl IX played on January 12, 1975.

During his playing days, Kolb was invited to participate in the World’s Strongest Man competitions held in 1978 and 1979. One of the strongest NFL players, Kolb at 6’2” and 260 pounds, had to compete against strongmen much bigger than him. Nevertheless, he was able to place fourth both years and enjoyed the contrast to that of his offensive tackle position.

“When I was invited to go to the competitions, I started looking at the events, I thought, ‘Okay, there’s some events in here I might be able to compete in,’” said Kolb, adding that the only stat an offensive lineman has is “How many sacks did you give up?” “There was finally something that I could do that wasn’t tallied on my ledger as a bad thing,” said Kolb.
After playing 13 seasons, Kolb retired but continued to be a member of the Steelers coaching staff for an additional 10 years. He became both the defensive line and strength and conditioning coach. When Chuck Noll retired, he was given additional opportunities to coach for other organizations but declined those offers so he could spend more time watching his three sons participate in their athletic endeavors.

Although Kolb has retired from football, he continues to live a very influential purposeful life. He has a master’s degree from Slippery Rock University in exercise science and teaches in the Kinesiology Department at Youngstown State. Kolb, 71, has defied the pitfalls of aging through his rigorous lifestyle.

“Well, I think aging is really a mind thing. If a kid falls off a bicycle, what do you tell him? You tell him to get back on. If an older person falls off a bicycle, you tell him act their age. Somehow, we get this idea that at some point in time I’m supposed to slow down,” said Kolb.

Kolb engages in a variety of activities that are both physically and mentally challenging. Running the Youngstown stadium steps is one of his passions.

“I love it. It has is 175 steps from bottom to top. In the old Three Rivers Stadium, the longest flight of steps, because it was in tiers, was only 87. I love stadiums, hills and my treadmill set at a grade,” said Kolb.

Developing balance and strength is part of Kolb’s regimen. The exercises he currently performs complement the challenges he has embraced.

“I’ll put my hands on a medicine ball and my feet on a big stability ball, and then I’ll do pushups. Rather than the resistance be in the form of weight, the resistance is in the form of balance. That lends itself better to the rock climbing and the kayaking I want to do now because I don’t have to stop a 280-pound defensive end anymore. I have to be able to get up a rock and only have about an inch of a finger hold on,” explained Kolb.

In addition to his personal physical challenges, Kolb created a non-profit organization to help those with varying needs experience the wonders of movement. Adventures in Training for a Purpose (ATP) has sites in Mars and Hermitage, Pennsylvania and Youngstown, Ohio. Kolb utilizes interns from Youngstown State and Slippery Rock University to support the clients in ATP. Disabled veterans, mentally challenged, stroke and paralyzed individuals are some of the people Kolb and his staff are assisting.
“Most of these people have the common denominator that the insurance company has said you’ve reached your maximum medical potential,” said Kolb who believes there is far more potential and work to be done to enhance their quality of life.

Kolb looks at the ageing process with the mindset that propelled him to excellence on the football field.

“For some reason, I don’t fully understand it, people say that at some age you shouldn’t do this or that. Well, I’ve got a big old fat-wheeled mountain bike. My favorite thing right now is rock climbing. It’s just the quietness, and it’s almost like the rocks are challenging me: ‘Now you can’t get up here,’” said Kolb. “And you’d think I’m hearing voices, and maybe I am, but the rocks have become the Joe Klecko [former defensive lineman for the New York Jets], if you will. And I don’t want to lose to that rock, so I’m going to get up there.”

George Kattouf

  • D.O.B. -1947
  • Birth Place- Ponca City, Oklahoma
  • Residence- Hermitage, Pennsylvania
  • Height 6’ 2”
  • Weight 220 lbs.

Ageless/Timeless Accomplishments

  • 1968-All American lineman attending Oklahoma State University
  • 1969-Third Round Draft Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 1971-1981 Starting Offensive Tackle Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 1974, 1975,1978, 1979-Earned four Superbowl rings
  • 1978 and 1979 Placed fourth World’s Strongest Man
  • *Ten years-Steeler’s Strength and Conditioning Coach and Defensive Coach
  • * Six Years-Defensive Coach Grove City College
  • *Master’s Degree Exercise Science-Slippery Rock University
  • *Founder- Adventures in Training with a Purpose



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