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January 5, 2007
The Jaw Says Goodbye

Bill Cowher, who has spent the last 15 years as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will announce his resignation today at a press conference at the Steelers headquarters, the AP reports. Steelers fans will hope that their source turns out to be Jamil Hussein, but in this case the AP likely has their story straight:

Bill Cowher is returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers - to say goodbye. The Steelers will begin a coaching search Friday to replace the departing Cowher, a person familiar with Cowher's status said Thursday night. Cowher called owner Dan Rooney on Thursday to tell him of his decision, and the team announced a Friday news conference not long after that. Cowher is expected to attend.

The 49-year-old Cowher, one of the NFL's most recognizable faces and most successful coaches for 15 seasons, has weighed resigning since shortly after the Steelers finally won the Super Bowl in February following numerous near misses.

Cowher has talked of wanting to spend more time with his family, especially now that they are living in a new home in Raleigh, N.C., where he and wife Kaye attended North Carolina State. Cowher's two oldest daughters are at Princeton and the youngest has only 2 1/2 years of high school remaining, time Cowher apparently doesn't want to spend away from her.

While Cowher would be resigning with one season left on his contract, there is no indication he would retire from pro football. He said recently he is not close to being burned out, and still likes coaching and dealing with players.

As a lifelong Steeler fan, this comes as an expected but still tough blow. Cowher embodied the Steelers persona: tough, tenacious, and smart. Few coaches fit their teams as well as Cowher did, which is why he lasted 15 years after getting the job when most coaches are still carrying Gatorade bottles for the players.

At 49, he's much too young to hang up his clipboard. He wants to spend time with his family before time runs out, and he's close to being too late for that. No one could blame him; the head coaching position has become a 24/7/365 job during the time Cowher has coached the Steelers. After 15 years of that kind of grind, a couple of years as a sabbatical seems reasonable enough.

I expect that Cowher will not retreat from football entirely, though. He will probably find work as an analyst with one of the networks, a job that will take significantly less of his time. He will need to stay connected if he plans to return to coaching at some point, and given his consistent success in Pittsburgh and his youth, that seems assured. It probably won't be with Pittsburgh, though, unless Cowher's replacement bombs -- and you can bet that whoever succeeds him will feel that pressure from the fans, the players, and the head office.

This fan will miss The Jaw on Sunday afternoons, stalking the sidelines. I'll miss the passion that Cowher always has for the game, and the obvious joy he took in it. Thanks for 15 great seasons, Mr. Cowher, and we hope you enjoy the time off.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 5, 2007 4:50 AM

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» Steelers: Continuity After Cowher from Ed
As Ed Morrissey notes, Bill Cowher is stepping down after 15 years as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and deliverer of the fabled "One For The Thumb"--their fifth Super Bowl ring. Ed writes:As a lifelong Steeler fan, this comes... [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2007 3:28 PM


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