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Originally published Thursday, February 3, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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School of not so hard Knox

Back in 1973, when a football visionary named Carroll Rosenbloom saw genius in a young coach named Chuck Knox, the money seemed bigger than...

Seattle Times staff reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Back in 1973, when a football visionary named Carroll Rosenbloom saw genius in a young coach named Chuck Knox, the money seemed bigger than life. Knox took $50,000 a year to coach Rosenbloom's Los Angeles Rams and was thrilled to sign the contract.

That seemed to be an especially paltry sum yesterday as Knox talked about the $1 million gift he has given his alma mater, Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. The gift is to endow a chair in history.

"Sure it is (a lot of money)," Knox said yesterday. "That's what it was going to take to do it."

Eventually Knox did make some money coaching, especially in the 1980s with the Seahawks and in one last run with the Rams in the early 1990s. But he left the game too soon to capitalize on the enormous money that coaches now make. As he spoke on a conference call here at the Super Bowl, several reporters tried to ask whether the $1 million endowment was taking a sizeable chunk of his retirement.

Knox dodged the questions, deftly choosing to look back instead.

He talked about his family, about how his father was laid off from the steel mills outside Pittsburgh and how his mother had to clean homes to make ends meet.

"I know how it is," he said. "I worked in the steel mills. I made 83½ cents an hour in the Conway Rail Yards."

Juniata was his salvation. After graduating with a history degree in 1954, he was interested in a graduate degree. But football called, and for the next three years he was an assistant coach at Juniata. Seven years later, he was an assistant coach with the New York Jets — the beginning of a successful career in professional football.

As he talked from his home near Palm Springs, Calif., yesterday, Knox sounded pleased with his donation. The chair will be called the "Dr. Charles R. and Shirley A. Knox Chair in History."

He has donated a great deal of money to Juniata, most notably helping the school to build a 3,000-seat football stadium that carries his name.

"Chuck has been a tremendous influence on the history and academic legacy of Juniata," school president Thomas Kepple said in a statement. "He is proud of the education he received at Juniata, and to give us the resources to recruit and retain brilliant historians is a gift beyond measure."



• Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander was in Jacksonville as a finalist for the FedEx Air & Ground award for running back of the year. He finished behind the player who beat him by one yard for the rushing title, the Jets' Curtis Martin.

Alexander, who is scheduled to become a free agent, repeated his pledge that he would like to remain in Seattle.

"If we sign me back, I think we're on the verge of coming here (to the Super Bowl) next year," he said. "I'm hoping Seattle will make things good."

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