Bill Cowher

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Bill Cowher
Bill Cowher.jpg
No. 53
Head Coach
Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1957-05-08) May 8, 1957 (age 56)
Place of birth: Crafton, Pennsylvania
Career information
College: North Carolina State
Undrafted in 1979
Debuted in 1980 for the Cleveland Browns
Last played in 1984 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Coaching debut in 1985 for the Cleveland Browns
Last coached in 2006 for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Career history
 As player:
 As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Win-Loss Record149–90–1
Winning %.623
Games240
Stats at NFL.com
Coaching stats at pro-football-reference.com
 
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Bill Cowher
Bill Cowher.jpg
No. 53
Head Coach
Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1957-05-08) May 8, 1957 (age 56)
Place of birth: Crafton, Pennsylvania
Career information
College: North Carolina State
Undrafted in 1979
Debuted in 1980 for the Cleveland Browns
Last played in 1984 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Coaching debut in 1985 for the Cleveland Browns
Last coached in 2006 for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Career history
 As player:
 As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Win-Loss Record149–90–1
Winning %.623
Games240
Stats at NFL.com
Coaching stats at pro-football-reference.com

William Laird "Bill" Cowher (born May 8, 1957) is a former professional American football coach and player in the National Football League (NFL). In Cowher's 15 seasons as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team won eight division titles and made 10 playoff appearances. Cowher led the Steelers to the Super Bowl twice, winning one. He is the second coach in NFL history to reach the playoffs in each of his first six seasons as head coach, a feat previously accomplished by Paul Brown. Cowher resigned as head coach of the Steelers on January 5, 2007, 11 months to the day after winning Super Bowl XL in 2006. Cowher was replaced by current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Before being hired by the Steelers in 1992, Cowher served as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs under head coach Marty Schottenheimer. He is currently a studio analyst for The NFL Today.

Early life[edit]

Born in Crafton, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Cowher excelled in football, basketball, and track for Carlynton High. At North Carolina State University, he was a starting linebacker, team captain, and team MVP in his senior year. He graduated in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in education.

Professional career[edit]

Cowher began his NFL career as a linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1979, but signed with the Cleveland Browns the following year. Cowher played three seasons (1980–82) in Cleveland, making him a member of the Kardiac Kids, before being traded back to the Eagles, where he played two more years (1983–84). His tenure in Philadelphia included tackling a young Jeff Fisher (who later became the head coach of the Tennessee Titans) when playing against the Chicago Bears, causing Fisher to break his leg.[1] The two would later be rival head coaches and friends in the AFC Central division, and Fisher has credited his injury at the hands of Cowher with having the unintended consequence of propelling him into coaching.

Cowher primarily played special teams during his playing career, and placed emphasis on special teams during his coaching career. Cowher credits being a "bubble player" during his playing career with influencing his coaching career, feeling that such players work the hardest for a roster spot (and sometimes still get cut, hence the term "bubble player"), and thus make better head coaches than those with successful playing careers.[citation needed]

Coaching career[edit]

Cowher began his coaching career in 1985 at age 28 under Marty Schottenheimer with the Cleveland Browns. He was the Browns' special teams coach in 1985–86 and secondary coach in 1987–88 before following Schottenheimer to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989 as defensive coordinator.

He became the 15th head coach in Steelers history when he succeeded Chuck Noll on January 21, 1992 – but only the second head coach since the NFL merger in 1970. Under Cowher, the Steelers showed an immediate improvement from the disappointing 7–9 season the year before, going 11–5 and earning home field advantage in the AFC after the Steelers had missed the playoffs six times out of the previous seven years. In 1995, at age 38, he became the youngest coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl. Cowher is only the second coach in NFL history to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first six seasons as head coach, joining Pro Football Hall of Fame member Paul Brown.

In Cowher’s 15 seasons, the Steelers captured eight division titles, earned 10 postseason playoff berths, played in 21 playoff games, advanced to six AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least seven division titles. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Steelers had the best record of any team in the NFL since Cowher was hired as head coach.

On February 5, 2006, Cowher's Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL by defeating the Seattle Seahawks 21–10, giving Cowher his first Super Bowl ring. Through the Super Bowl, Cowher's team had compiled a record of 108–1–1 in games in which they built a lead of at least 11 points.[2]

During the following season, there was talk about Cowher leaving the Steelers, ostensibly to spend more time with his family. On January 5, 2007, Cowher stepped down after 15 years at the helm of the franchise. The Steelers hired former Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin as Cowher's successor.

Cowher's record as a head coach is 149–90–1 (161–99–1 including playoff games).

After coaching[edit]

On February 15, 2007, he signed on to The NFL Today on CBS as a studio analyst, joining Dan Marino, Shannon Sharpe, and Boomer Esiason.

In 2007, Cowher appeared in the ABC reality television series Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race, featuring a dozen celebrities in a stock car racing competition. Cowher matched up against Gabrielle Reece and William Shatner.

On March 4, 2008, Cowher responded to rumors concerning his coaching future by stating, "I'm not going anywhere."[3] The Cowhers placed their Raleigh, North Carolina home on the market, with the intention of building a new house two miles away.

Putting an end to numerous unfounded rumors of his return to coaching in the NFL in 2009, Cowher stated on The NFL Today that he did not plan to coach again in the immediate future.[4]

Cowher had a part in the movie The Dark Knight Rises (2012), which was filmed at Heinz Field, the home of the Steelers, in downtown Pittsburgh. He played the head coach of the Gotham Rogues.[5]

Coaching tree[edit]

Cowher challenges a play

Assistant coaches under Bill Cowher that became Head Coaches in the NFL:

Family[edit]

Bill Cowher's late wife, Kaye (née Young), also a North Carolina State University graduate, played professional basketball for the New York Stars of the (now defunct) Women's Pro Basketball League with her twin sister, Faye. Kaye was featured in the book Mad Seasons: The Story of the First Women's Professional Basketball League, 1978–1981, by Karra Porter (University of Nebraska Press, 2006). Kaye Cowher died of skin cancer at age 54 on July 23, 2010.[6]

Bill and Kaye have three daughters. Daughters Meagan and Lauren played basketball at Princeton University, and Lindsay played basketball at Wofford College before transferring to Elon University. In 2007, the Cowher family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina from suburban Pittsburgh. Meagan married NHL forward Kevin Westgarth of the Calgary Flames.[when?][7] Lindsay is engaged to NBA forward Ryan Kelly of the Los Angeles Lakers.[8]

Endorsements[edit]

Cowher is under an exclusive autograph contract with the Mounted Memories company of Florida. Cowher was also on the cover of EA Sports' 2006 video game NFL Head Coach. Cowher appears in TV advertising for Time Warner Cable.

Head coaching record[edit]

TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
PIT19921150.6881st in AFC Central01.000Lost to Buffalo Bills in AFC Divisional Game.
PIT1993970.5632nd in AFC Central01.000Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Wild-Card Game.
PIT19941240.7501st in AFC Central11.500Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFC Championship Game.
PIT19951150.6881st in AFC Central21.667Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.
PIT19961060.6251st in AFC Central11.500Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Divisional Game.
PIT19971150.6881st in AFC Central11.500Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Championship Game.
PIT1998790.4383rd in AFC Central
PIT19996100.3754th in AFC Central
PIT2000970.5633rd in AFC Central
PIT20011330.8121st in AFC Central11.500Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game.
PIT20021051.6561st in AFC North11.500Lost to Tennessee Titans in AFC Divisional Game.
PIT20036100.3753rd in AFC North
PIT20041510.9381st in AFC North11.500Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game.
PIT20051150.6882nd in AFC North401.000Super Bowl XL Champions.
PIT2006880.5003rd in AFC North
PIT Total149901.623129.571
Total[9]149901.623129.571

Coaching record vs. other teams[edit]

How the Steelers fared in games with Cowher as head coach.

TeamWinsLossesTiesWin Pct.
Arizona Cardinals2100.667
Atlanta Falcons3110.700[a]
Baltimore Ravens13900.591
Buffalo Bills5200.714
Carolina Panthers3100.750
Chicago Bears3100.750
Cincinnati Bengals21900.700
Cleveland Browns19500.792
Dallas Cowboys1200.333
Denver Broncos1300.250
Detroit Lions4100.800
Green Bay Packers2200.500
Houston Texans1100.500
Indianapolis Colts4100.800
Jacksonville Jaguars81000.444
Kansas City Chiefs5300.625
Miami Dolphins5200.714
Minnesota Vikings2200.500
New England Patriots4300.571
New Orleans Saints2100.667
New York Giants2100.667
New York Jets4100.800
Oakland Raiders5200.714
Philadelphia Eagles2200.500
St. Louis Rams1200.333
San Diego Chargers7200.778
San Francisco 49ers1300.250
Seattle Seahawks2400.333
Tampa Bay Buccaneers3100.750
Tennessee Titans111200.478
Washington Redskins3001.000
Totals: 1499010.623[a]

Note:

a For the purposes of calculating winning percentage ties are counted as ½ of a win and ½ of a loss

Coaching record vs. other teams (playoffs)[edit]

How the Steelers fared in playoff games with Cowher as head coach.

TeamWinsLossesWin Pct.
Baltimore Ravens101.000
Buffalo Bills110.500
Cincinnati Bengals101.000
Cleveland Browns201.000
Dallas Cowboys010.000
Denver Broncos110.500
Indianapolis Colts301.000
Kansas City Chiefs010.000
New England Patriots130.250
New York Jets101.000
San Diego Chargers010.000
Seattle Seahawks101.000
Tennessee Titans010.000
Totals: 1290.571

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Silver, Michael (October 7, 1996). "Making A Statement". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  2. ^ Collier, Gene (February 6, 2006). "Taylor's interception clips Seahawk's wings". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 29, 2010. 
  3. ^ Bouchette, Ed (2008-03-05). "Cowhers will move, but not to Penn State". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on March 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  4. ^ "Cowher Doesn't Plan on Coaching in 2009". TSN. 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  5. ^ Posted by Aaron on August 7, 2011 at 4:52pm View Blog (2011-08-07). "Aaron's Experience As An Extra On 'The Dark Knight Rises' *SPOILERS INCLUDED* - The Spill Movie Community". My.spill.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  6. ^ Kaye Cowher dies from skin cancer WRALsportsfan.com Accessed July 24, 2010
  7. ^ "Bill Cowher's daughter to wed NHL enforcer". Sports.nationalpost.com. 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  8. ^ "Lindsay Cowher gets engaged to Ryan Kelly from Duke". WTAE.com. 2013-05-24. 
  9. ^ "Bill Cowher Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –". Pro-football-reference.com. 1957-05-08. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Rod Rust
Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator
1989–1991
Succeeded by
Dave Adolph