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Jerome Bettis On Bill Cowher: ‘He Understood What It Took To Get Me Going’

Bill Cowher coaching 2006

It’s a bit of a funny thing to me, how much time that we are spending lately talking about people who used to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. Whether or not they remain a part of the broader family, there is still a football game to be played. And we are talking about other things, and other people, because the Steelers are not in that game. They haven’t played, in fact, in over a month.

And so we’re hearing from a wide array of characters from James Harrison to Hines Ward to Ryan Clark to Bryant McFadden to Jerome Bettis and Bill Cowher. All of them have their own insights, yet none of them were there this past year. So I’d rather hear what they have to say about what they were there for.

And one of the things that Bettis talked about recently was his time under Cowher, who is the only head coach he played for in Pittsburgh. with Cowher receiving a broadcasting award, Bettis, who is also a member of the media now, talked to the team’s website about their history and what as a coach made him a great analyst of the game as well.

From a coach-player standpoint, he was one of the best coaches I ever had”, he said. “He understood me. He understood what it took to get me going. He said the right things at the right time. He was a huge influence in terms of my life, understanding if I needed encouragement he gave it to me, if I needed pushed he gave it to me”.

Now, these comments might strike you as the sorts of things that current Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin is supposed to be known for. He has a reputation for knowing how to be a leader and how to get the most out of his players by motivating them in the ways that best suit them. Being adaptable. For Bettis, that was Cowher.

“When you are trying to get across to guys you have to talk a certain way”, he said of his former head coach. “He is one way behind the scenes when it was time for him to be a teacher. There was another side when he had to be a fiery coach on the sideline because that’s when his energy came out, his passion showed. On television he is doing more teaching and explaining than coaching, so every now and then you see him get fired up”.

If you actually watch him work, Cowher really is legitimately one of the few making the transition to playing or coaching to analyzing that doesn’t embarrass himself, either by being a poor speaker or simply not knowing what they’re talking about.

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