State Alumnus Bill Cowher Elected to NFL Hall of Fame

Brett Friedlander

Torry Holt might be the highest-profile former NC State football player up for consideration to the NFL Hall of Fame this year.

But he won't be the first Wolfpack alumnus to gain entry into the shrine as part of the league's centennial class.

That honor goes to Bill Cowher, the former State linebacker and Pittsburgh Steelers coach, who was informed of his selection to Canton on live television during his broadcast on the CBS NFL Today pregame show.

"Football is a total team sport," a visibly emotional Cowher said after the surprise announcement. "I had some great players, some great coaches, the best organization in football. 

"To give something back to the game of football that's been a part of my life, the virtues it teaches you, the morals you have the obligation to move on, the platforms that we have ... I'm a blessed man and I've been blessed to be around some very special people."

Cowher was a starting linebacker during his career with the Wolfpack, which spanned from 1976-79. He was the Wolfpack's captain and team MVP during his senior season and graduated with a degree in education.

 After playing three seasons with the Cleveland Browns, he began his coaching career as an assistant with the team. He was eventually hired as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, replacing franchise legend and fellow Hall of Famer Chuck Noll. Over the the next 15 years, his teams won eight division championships, earned 10 playoff berths and made two Super Bowl appearances -- beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 on Feb. 5, 2006 to win Super Bowl XL.

He retired in 2007 with a career record of 149–90–1 (161–99–1 including playoff games).

Cowher is the first member of a Hall of Fame class that will include include another coach, three contributors and 10 seniors -- all of whom will be announced on Wednesday -- and five "modern-era" inductees to be selected during the week of the Super Bowl.

Holt is among the finalists for the "modern-era" selections.

The centennial class was chosen as part of the NFL's 100th anniversary. The newest Hall of Famers will be formally inducted into the shrine in Canton in September.