Saturday Night surprise: Cowher named as first inductee to Centennial Class

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Clark Judge

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Bill Cowher is going to Canton.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers’ coach is one of two coaches named to the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s Centennial Class of 2020 – a group of 15 inductees that wasn’t supposed to be announced until Wednesday, Jan. 15.

But Hall-of-Fame president and CEO David Baker on Saturday surprised Cowher on the set of CBS’ “NFL Today” set prior to the Tennessee-Baltimore telecast to tell him that he was elected by the “blue-ribbon panel” that last week chose the Centennial Class.

The remainder of the class – 10 seniors, three contributors and one coach – will be revealed on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” broadcast Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET.

Cowher’s election was unexpected, mostly because he’s never been a Hall-of-Fame finalist and because three others (Don Coryell, Jimmy Johnson and Tom Flores) have. In fact, Coryell has been a five-time finalist and in 2016 made the first cut from 15 to 10 before bowing out.

Cowher served as head coach of the Steelers for 19 seasons (1992-2006), leading the team to 10 playoff appearances – including nine division championships and two Super Bowls. He won the Lombardi Trophy when the Steelers defeated Seattle 21-10 in Super Bowl XL in Detroit.

Cowher had a career record of 161-99-1, a winning percentage of .619.

It is altogether possible – and more likely probable – that Cowher is joined in the Class of 2020 by one of his former players, Troy Polamalu. In his first year of eligibility for Canton, the former All-Pro safety is considered a favorite to be one of the five modern-era choices that will comprise the a 20-member Class of 2020.

Comments (8)
brian wolf
brian wolf

Consistent Steeler success and developing great players, helped put Cowher in. An old school coach, who ran the ball.

No. 1-4
brian wolf
brian wolf

When it comes to coaches, consistent team success, seems to be the name of the game over championships. Cowher, like Dungy and Madden, get in with one, while George Allen had none.

Meanwhile coaches like Buddy Parker, Jimmy Johnson, George Seifert, Mike Shanahan, and Tom Flores are still waiting.

brian wolf
brian wolf

Let us know Goose...

Johnson gets in tomorrow ?


My initial reaction to Bill Cowher being one of the two coaches was surprise. He doesn’t have the win totals of Reeves or Holmgren, he has only one title, and he has never been a semifinalist, much less a finalist, before.

He does, however, have by far the best W-L percentage of any of the coaching finalists. That probably was enough.

Interestingly, his career looks superficially like Tony Dungy’s. They have similar win/loss totals and they each won a title. Dungy does have innovator status, a more noteworthy assistant coaching career, and a better W-L percentage, though.

In sum, I think he’s a reasonable HoF coaching choice. But then again, so are most of the other finalists. Could have been worse, though.

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