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