Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher was formally named the first member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s centennial class on Saturday, when the Hall’s president, David Baker, informed Cowher of his selection to be enshrined during CBS’ “NFL Today” program.
The Hall’s centennial class was selected by a blue-ribbon panel this past week. The remainder of the 15-member class will be revealed Wednesday morning.
Cowher, a Crafton, Pennsylvania, native who coached the Steelers for 15 seasons, was visibly moved by the announcement.
“Just thinking about the Pittsburgh franchise and Dan Rooney when he hired me,” Cowher said, before joking, “My first goal was just not to get fired before my 20th high school reunion.”
The centennial class, when revealed, will include 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches. One of whom is Cowher.
“Congratulations to Bill Cowher on his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “One of our most successful coaches in team history, Bill’s energy and dedication for coaching was evident in every practice and every game.
“His Pittsburgh roots were perfect for our organization because he knew the history and passion of our fans, and he wanted to bring a Super Bowl back to his hometown. He accomplished that feat in dramatic fashion in Super Bowl XL.”
Steelers great and Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis congratulated Cowher in a tweet, calling him “my coach in Pittsburgh and now my forever coach in Canton.”
Congratulations Coach Cowher on being inducted into the @ProFootballHOF!! My coach in Pittsburgh and now my forever coach in Canton!!
— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) January 12, 2020
The centennial class was chosen as part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary, and the formal enshrinement for the class will be in September in Canton, Ohio.
The blue-ribbon panel — which included members of the Hall’s board of selectors, league historians, Hall of Famers and Patriots coach Bill Belichick — chose the centennial class from a list of 38 finalists during a meeting at the Hall of Fame this past Wednesday.
The 38 finalists were chosen from a list of almost 300 nominees over the course of the past five months.
The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 will be selected Feb. 1 in Miami Beach, Florida, the day before Super Bowl LIV, and the five who are selected will be enshrined at the Hall in August.
Cowher succeeded Hall of Famer Chuck Noll as Steelers coach in 1992. At the time, the then-35-year-old was the youngest head coach in the league, and he led the Steelers to 11 wins in his first season. By the time he stepped down in 2006, he had accumulated 149 regular-season wins, 12 playoff wins, nine seasons with at least 10 wins, 10 playoff seasons and a Super Bowl win.
Cowher had just three seasons with a losing record, and his win total ranks 20th all time.
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