The voters saw fit to enshrine former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the 2020 Centennial class. When it was announced that Cowher would be inducted, it came as a surprise to many, especially since many other more deserving coaches have waited significantly longer.
When he received his gold jacket, and was welcomed into the exclusive club, Denver Broncos fans began to wonder about why the winningest head coach in franchise history — Mike Shanahan — has not even been mentioned for the same honor. If Cowher is deserving, the Hall should be prepping for Shanahan’s bronze bust.
Cowher had a very solid career as a head coach for the Steelers, a preferred and sacrosanct franchise of the voters when it comes to the immortal entrance into Canton. Shanahan’s stint as the Broncos head coach is just as impressive, however.
Last year, Cowher himself revealed his opinion that Shanahan should be enshrined, too. Comparing an enshrined coach like Cowher to Shanahan, here are the numbers:
Shanahan (with Broncos) Cowher
Years Coaching: Shanahan: 14 | Cowher: 15
Super Bowl Wins: Shanahan: 2 | Cowher: 1
Wins: Shanahan: 138 | Cowher: 149
Win %: Shanahan: .616 | Cowher: .623
Wins Per Season: Shanahan: 10 | Cowher: 10
Seasons in Playoffs: Shanahan: 7 | Cowher: 10
Playoff Win %: Shanahan: .615 | Cowher: .571
What these two coaches accomplished is fairly even in most categories. The back-to-back Super Bowl victories should give Shanahan the edge, however.
After all, winning is the most important goal as a head coach in the National Football League and Shanahan brought home two World Championships to the city of Denver. Doing it back-to-back is a rare feat and should have added weight.
One could also argue that Cowher was aided by more talented players if you count Hall-of-Famers as being such. If one doesn’t think that argument holds water, the other option is to assert that voters favor the Steelers franchise, which is why more Steelers are in Canton from Cowher’s head coaching days than when Shanahan helmed the Broncos.
Cowher was blessed with these gold jacketed players: Alan Faneca (G), Jerome Bettis (RB), Rod Woodson (CB), Dermontti Dawson (C), and Troy Polamalu (S).
Cowher also coached QB Ben Roethlisberger, who is destined to be on the first ballot, as well as WR Hines Ward. Regardless of whether Ward is worthy, it has been evident that the Canton push is on for him by media members. He will have his gold jacket come hell or high water, even over more deserving players.
There are two others who helped Cowher to succeed, a Hall-of-Fame executive — Dan Rooney — and a Hall-of-Fame scout — Bill Nunn. That is a ton of gold fabric greasing Cowher's wheels. 10 enshrinees to be exact, including Cowher.
Shanahan also had his hall of fame helpers, but so far, not as many: John Elway (QB), Terrell Davis (RB), Shannon Sharpe (TE), Gary Zimmerman (OT), and Steve Atwater (S). Pat Bowlen, one of the best owners in NFL history is also enshrined.
By my count, that is six and less than what Cowher had to work with over his career. Either Shanahan was a better coach and got more out of lesser players or the voters are overlooking deserving Broncos in favor of Steelers, which would indicate that they showed favoritism to Cowher.
Either way, if Cowher got into the Hall of Fame, Shanahan is also deserving of being immortalized in the hallowed halls of Canton. The first step is getting Shanahan into the Broncos' Ring of Fame, which is happening this fall. The next? Hopefully, Canton.
Follow Thomas on Twitter @ThomasHallNFL.
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