Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Bill_Cowher_Chicago Bears v Baltimore Ravens
Posted at 8:57 PM, Jan 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-12 00:15:27-05

NEW YORK (AP) -- Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Cowher, an analyst for CBS, was surprised by the announcement made live on air in studio before the Tennessee Titans-Baltimore Ravens AFC divisional round playoff game Saturday night.

Hall President and CEO David Baker delivered the news to Cowher during CBS's "The NFL Today" pregame show broadcast.

"This isn't right that this is happening right now, but ..." a grinning Cowher told Baker, who then officially welcomed the former coach into this year's Hall of Fame class to be inducted this summer.

An emotional Cowher, now 62, hugged Baker and then his wife Veronica and daughter Meagan, who were standing off to the side of the set. The rest of Cowher's CBS broadcast team, including James Brown, Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms, also gave him congratulatory hugs.

Cowher was the coach of the Steelers for 15 seasons from 1992 to 2006, and led them to 10 playoff appearances including two Super Bowls and winning one -- beating Seattle in 2006. His Pittsburgh teams won nine division titles.

Cowher had an overall career record of 161-99-1 with a .619 winning percentage.

"Football is a total team sport," Cowher said while fighting back tears. "I had some great players, some great coaches, the best organization in football. I've lived a blessed life. I've come to the best network on TV. It's a family here, like it was a family that we had there. And to have to give back just something to the game of football, that's been a part of my life, the virtues that it teaches you, the morals that you have the obligation to move on, the platforms that we have, you know, I'm a blessed man and I've been very blessed to have been surrounded by some very special people."

A special panel met at the Hall in Canton, Ohio, on Wednesday to elect the centennial slate for this year's class of inductees, marking the first time any members were elected during a selection meeting held at the Hall in Canton.

The centennial slate includes 10 "Seniors" (players who last played more than 25 seasons ago), three "contributors" (an individual other than a player or coach) and two "coaches" (who last coached more than five seasons ago) and were voted on from a list of 38 finalists. The remainder of the 15-person centennial slate will be revealed live on "Good Morning Football" next Wednesday.

The Hall's overall class will consist of 20 members, including an additional five who will be added the day before the Super Bowl, when the modern-era player Finalists are voted on by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

"I mean, what can I say? I just think about the players," Cowher said. "I just think about the Pittsburgh franchise, and Dan Rooney when he hired me, he took a chance on a 34-year-old kid from Crafton, Pennsylvania, and my first goal was just to not get fired for my 20th high school class reunion."