|Date of birth:May 8, 1957|
|Place of birth: Crafton, Pennsylvania|
|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 highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
|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 fifteen seasons as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team won eight division titles and made ten 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 2005–06's Super Bowl XL. 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.
Born in Crafton, Pennsylvania, Cowher excelled in football, basketball, and track for Carlynton High in Crafton, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At North Carolina State University, Cowher was a starting linebacker, team captain, and team MVP in his senior year. He graduated in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in education.
Cowher began his NFL career as a linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1979, but would sign 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. 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 to get 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 to influence him on 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.
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 fifteenth 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 ten 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. It has become an article of faith among NFL pundits that the Steelers do not have a bad team two years in a row – they have never lost 10 or more games in consecutive years since the 1970 NFL merger. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the best record of any team in the National Football League 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 eleven points.
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).
On April 28, 2007, Cowher's remaining Pittsburgh belongings were to be auctioned off to the public. Only two items with Steeler logos were available for sale.
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 rumours concerning his coaching future by stating, "I'm not going anywhere." The Cowhers placed their Raleigh, North Carolina home on the market, with the intention of building a new house two miles away.
Cowher appears in TV advertising for Time Warner Cable.
Assistant coaches under Bill Cowher that became Head Coaches in the NFL:
- Dom Capers: Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans
- Chan Gailey: Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills
- Jim Haslett: New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams
- Mike Mularkey: Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Ken Whisenhunt: Arizona Cardinals
- Dick LeBeau: Cincinnati Bengals
- Marvin Lewis: Cincinnati Bengals
- Bruce Arians: Arizona Cardinals
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.
Bill and Kaye have three daughters. Daughters Meagan and Lauren played basketball at Princeton University. Their third daughter, Lindsay, played basketball at Wofford College before transferring to Elon University. In 2007, the Cowher family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina from suburban Pittsburgh (Fox Chapel). Meagan Cowher is married to NHL forward Kevin Westgarth of the Carolina Hurricanes . Lindsay is engaged to NBA forward Ryan Kelly of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Head coaching record
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|PIT||1992||11||5||0||.688||1st in AFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost to Buffalo Bills in AFC Divisional Game.|
|PIT||1993||9||7||0||.563||2nd in AFC Central||0||1||.000||Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Wild-Card Game.|
|PIT||1994||12||4||0||.750||1st in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFC Championship Game.|
|PIT||1995||11||5||0||.688||1st in AFC Central||2||1||.667||Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.|
|PIT||1996||10||6||0||.625||1st in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Divisional Game.|
|PIT||1997||11||5||0||.688||1st in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Championship Game.|
|PIT||1998||7||9||0||.438||3rd in AFC Central||–||–||–||–|
|PIT||1999||6||10||0||.375||4th in AFC Central||–||–||–||–|
|PIT||2000||9||7||0||.563||3rd in AFC Central||–||–||–||–|
|PIT||2001||13||3||0||.812||1st in AFC Central||1||1||.500||Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game.|
|PIT||2002||10||5||1||.656||1st in AFC North||1||1||.500||Lost to Tennessee Titans in AFC Divisional Game.|
|PIT||2003||6||10||0||.375||3rd in AFC North||–||–||–||–|
|PIT||2004||15||1||0||.938||1st in AFC North||1||1||.500||Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game.|
|PIT||2005||11||5||0||.688||2nd in AFC North||4||0||1.000||Super Bowl XL Champions.|
|PIT||2006||8||8||0||.500||3rd in AFC North||–||–||–||–|
Coaching record vs. other teams
How the Steelers fared in games with Cowher as head coach.
|Green Bay Packers||2||2||0||0.500|
|Kansas City Chiefs||5||3||0||0.625|
|New England Patriots||4||3||0||0.571|
|New Orleans Saints||2||1||0||0.667|
|New York Giants||2||1||0||0.667|
|New York Jets||4||1||0||0.800|
|St. Louis Rams||1||2||0||0.333|
|San Diego Chargers||7||2||0||0.778|
|San Francisco 49ers||1||3||0||0.250|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3||1||0||0.750|
- 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)
How the Steelers fared in playoff games with Cowher as head coach.
|Kansas City Chiefs||0||1||0.000|
|New England Patriots||1||3||0.250|
|New York Jets||1||0||1.000|
|San Diego Chargers||0||1||0.000|
- List of North Carolina State University people
- List of Super Bowl head coaches
- Most wins by a Head Coach (NFL)
Notes and references
- Silver, Michael (October 7, 1996). "Making A Statement". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
- Collier, Gene (February 6, 2006). "Taylor's interception clips Seahawk's wings". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
- Going Once, Going Twice...Chin! I Mean, Sold! Mondesishouse.com. Accessed September 8, 2007.
- Bouchette, Ed (2008-03-05). "Cowhers will move, but not to Penn State". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on March 08 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
- "Cowher Doesn't Plan on Coaching in 2009". TSN. 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
- 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.
- "NAA and Coach Bill Cowher". http://wn.com/. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Bill Cowher talks to NAA Agents About Opportunity and Hard Work". http://www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- Kaye Cowher dies from skin cancer WRALsportsfan.com Accessed July 24, 2010
- "Bill Cowher's daughter to wed NHL enforcer". Sports.nationalpost.com. 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- "Lindsay Cowher gets engaged to Ryan Kelly from Duke". WTAE.com. 2013-05-24.
- "Bill Cowher Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –". Pro-football-reference.com. 1957-05-08. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- Posnanski, Joe (December 19, 2011). "The Coach Who Won't Coach: After leaving the Steelers' sideline five years ago, Bill Cowher found a new career, and new contentment, on the set at CBS. And though he'd be first choice for any team with an opening, he says he's not going anywhere". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Bill Cowher|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bill Cowher.|
- Coaching Stats at profootballreference.com
- LB/Playing Stats at databasefootball.com
- Coaching Stats at databasefootball.com
|Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator