With training camp just around the corner, actual football played by actual football players is fast approaching, and fortunately for us, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the first on deck. They will face off against the Dallas Cowboys during Hall of Fame weekend, in the Hall of Fame game, as the organization sets to induct five of its own—Troy Polamalu, Alan Faneca, Donnie Shell, Bill Nunn, and Bill Cowher—into the ranks of football immortality.
Cowher was selected as one of 20 members of the Centennial Slate, voted on by a specially-assembled panel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the NFL by helping to relieve some of the backlog of football greats of the past who have thus far been overlooked. Nunn and Shell were also part of this group.
They’ll be there just like any other Hall of Famer, though. He’ll even be on hand during the Hall of Fame game, and he joked, during his recent media availability for the weekend, that he might have a little something up his sleeves.
“I’ll be on the sideline for the game, and it’ll be great”, he said. “I’m sure Jimmy [Johnson] will be on his sideline. I’ll be on my sideline. I’ll let Jimmy call a play. Let me call one blitz. I just want one blitz. I’ll grab Dick LeBeau with me, because he’ll probably be there too. So Dick and I’ll be on the sideline and we’ll call one blitz in the game. We’ll see if we can get Mike [Tomlin] to run one. It will be fun”.
Cowher was the Steelers’ head coach from 1992 through 2006, leading the team to two Super Bowl appearances, and one title. A former linebacker, he started his coaching career as a special teams coach before moving to defensive backs coach, and then defensive coordinator, before getting the Steelers job at the age of 34 to succeed the Hall of Famer in his own right, Chuck Noll.
Johnson was the Cowboys’ head coach from 1989 through 1993, helping them build a dynasty in the process. He claimed two Super Bowl titles and a Coach of the Year Award, and his successor would take his roster to one more Super Bowl win—over Cowher’s Steelers in 1995.
It was under Cowher’s watch that the moniker of ‘Blitzburgh’ was born, even if their pass rush was still largely dominated by their edge defenders in Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene, the latter yet another Hall of Famer, who unfortunately passed away last year, depriving him of the opportunity of watching Cowher join him.
Now, it should go without saying that Cowher is not actually going to be coaching in the game. Though he might be tempted to get in Tomlin’s ear at one point or another and offer a suggestion. He also knows Keith Butler, the team’s defensive coordinator, who was already in place as the team’s linebackers coach by the time he retired.