Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is an incredible, irreplaceable honor, especially as a contributor, since so few of them actually make it. Bill Cowher, the former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was to be among those exclusive few who receive that recognition about a month from now, but the enshrinement was postponed until next year because of the coronavirus.
Cowher, who retired after the 2006 season with two Super Bowl appearances and one trophy, was to be the second Steelers head coach to be enshrined, following of course the great Chuck Noll, to whom he was the immediate successor in the early 1990s. That proved to be a smart hire, as the next 15 years would prove, and will culminate in a bust with a particularly remarkable chin.
But the accolades and the honor can wait. As somebody who knows what Covid-19 is like, with himself and his wife having contracted it themselves and recovered, they have no qualms about the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s decision to postpone the ceremonies until next year.
“I’m really kind of relievedv”, he told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. “As much as you want to be reflective and talk about the people who were so instrumental in your life, now is not the time, not just with COVID(-19) but with the social justice issues. These are very transparent times and it’s so fluid. The Hall of Fame needs to be reflective”.
One of the big reasons that they decided to delay the event is exactly because of what Cowher said. It’s a time of reflection, one that’s supposed to be experienced ceremoniously, ritually, not in the middle of a pandemic, with social distancing and face coverings and societal unrest.
The expectation is that they can have a much more fitting and appropriate ceremony, with an audience ready to cheer on the alumni of their team—and you know there will be a heavy Steelers presence, with Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell also going in—to share in the experience.
“I think right now it’s just hard to really think about anything celebratory when the country is in the state it is”, Cowher added, and he’s right. Right now, we’re all desperate for some type of distraction, some type of release. Perhaps that’s what the ceremony would be for those on the outside looking in, but that’s not meant to be the experience for those who are being honored.
Everybody who was to be a part of next month’s class who has commented on the situation has already similarly expressed relief in the delay. Especially considering the fact that this special Centennial class happens to include a lot of older individuals who may be more susceptible, it actually makes all the more sense that they would favor erring on the side of caution. We already know one of them—Cowher—was infected.