Tunch Ilkin will forever be linked to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether it was on the football field or the broadcasting booth he has had one special career with the NFL. Tunch was diagnosed with ALS in September 2020 and he is looking to take on a different challenge away from football. ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease which is known as a motor neuron disease that results in the progressive loss of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles. ALS is the most common type of motor neuron disease.
Ilkin has announced his retirement from the NFL this morning. I always loved listening to him on Steelers Radio Network. There wasn't a day that went by when I wouldn't tune in to hear Tunch and Wolf. I love those guys in regards to the game of football and I will truly miss Tunch on the airwaves, but sometimes we have bigger battles we need to fight. I wish nothing but the best for Tunch Ilkin and I truly hope we hear from him from time to time.
Tunch on retiring from the NFL: "I have had 37 years in the NFL, with 14 as a player and the last 23 in broadcasting as the color analyst on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network, and I've decided to retire," said Ilkin in a statement. "I was diagnosed with ALS in September 2020, and I want to spend this time focusing on my treatment and fighting this disease. I would like to thank Steelers President Art Rooney II, the Steelers organization, and the fans for their continued support and prayers at this time."
Chuck Noll still motivates Ilkin to this day: "When I'm on that underwater treadmill, I always remember the time when Chuck Noll was running on a treadmill, and me and Wolf (Craig Wolfley) and Terry Long were there working out, too. Chuck was shuffling and doing footwork that offensive linemen do while he was on the treadmill, and then he jumped up at one point and fell, and he looked like a bottle of Coke rolling around," said Ilkin. "We all cracked up, and I think of that just about every time I'm doing my underwater running."
Not only did Tunch take Noll's teaching to heart, but he learned from Chuck Noll at a very early age. Noll was very special to him and he thinks about what Noll said to him during his treatments with ALS. Just like Chuck Noll used to say 'Narrow your focus' that is what Tunch plans on doing now that he is retiring from the NFL. He doesn't want to take ALS lightly and he wants to fight this thing with everything he has. Tunch says he will still be around and when the Steelers open up against the Bills in Week 1 he says "You bet I will be watching the Pittsburgh Steelers."