Steelers News

Bill Cowher Ready For Raiders Rivalry To Be Reignited: ‘A Representation Of What This City Is All About’

December 23 is a momentous day in Pittsburgh Steelers history. It’s of course the anniversary of not only the franchise’s first postseason victory but also the date of the most iconic play in the history of the game. All that, and it also marks really the origin of the great rivalry between the Steelers and the Raiders, now in Las Vegas, but long in Oakland.

The Steelers put in a request to have the opportunity to play the Raiders as close as possible to the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, and the NFL was more than happy to oblige. Sadly it came too late for the man himself, Franco Harris, to be able to participate, but the moment, the day, the game was always about more than just one man, as former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher talked about yesterday.

“That play, that game, that team. The Raiders, which went on forever,” he said about the rivalry between the two teams, which has spanned five decades and three head coaches now, during an appearance on NFL Now. “You talk about rivalries. You talk about tradition.”

“It started in the 70s with that, and these two teams and what they represented in terms of your city,” he went on. “That’s what it stood for. And when I came back that’s when I understood it to be. It’s about a representation of what this city is all about.”

Pittsburgh is an old steel town, of course. It’s why they adopted the moniker in 1940 after being founded as the Pirates in 1933. Everyone who enters the Steelers organization is quickly indoctrinated into the city’s culture, which may have evolved into a more white-collar case in certain segments in recent decades, but is still personified by specific traits.

“It’s grit. It’s hard work. It’s determination. It’s humility. It’s about also winning,” Cowher said. “Winning. He represented all of that because he was a winner. He was a gritty guy. Very humble guy. And he also gave back so much to the community.”

Cowher had some of the biggest shoes to fill in all of sports when he succeeded Chuck Noll as head coach in 1992. Essentially. Nobody else had ever brought the Steelers to success before Noll, so he was inevitably going to be a tough act to follow.

It took him over a decade to bring a Lombardi back to Pittsburgh, but he had plenty of success along the way, he and some of the most physical teams in all of football, on both sides of the ball, built through the trenches.

The Steelers under Mike Tomlin haven’t matched the same postseason success, but he did get the Super Bowl under his belt early, becoming the youngest head coach to ever win it in 2008 in his second year on the job.

And as Cowher said, it’s about winning. He did that. Now, he hasn’t won a postseason game in while, and that’s a problem, but that’s a conversation (one we’ve had many many times since 2016) for another day.

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