Sports Outside the Beltway

Bill Cowher’s Last Year?

Wow, the somewhat boring Steelers beat (involving the team quietly locking up most of their free agents) suddenly got more interesting

There is a growing feeling inside the Steelers organization that Bill Cowher may coach one more season or, at most two, and then retire to the $2.5 million home he and his wife bought in Raleigh, N.C., this year.

That sentiment was underscored yesterday with Cowher’s answer to a question about whether this might be his final season coaching the Steelers.

“I’m just taking it year to year,” he said, reiterating words he first spoke at the NFL meetings in March.

If he leaves, that would be a blow to the organization. He’s been a Pittsburgh institution (Cowher power, anyone?) for years. However, I can’t say he hasn’t earned it. Being a head coach in the NFL is a hard job, and if anyone has earned a break in this profession, its Bill Cowher.

That answer conflicts with one he gave two years ago in March just before negotiations began that extended his contract through the 2007 season.

“I have a seventh-grader,” he said then, “and I know for at least the next five years, if not longer, I plan on coaching.”

His youngest daughter, Lindsay, reportedly left Fox Chapel High School to enroll as a sophomore in the fall in a school near Raleigh, where she will play basketball.

Of course, that was two years ago. The man has achieved everything a pro coach can. If he leaves now, the team is in pretty good shape, with a lot of players doing well. Still, its hard to imagine the Steelers without their big-jawed coach pacing the sidelines.

Art Rooney II, the Steelers President, disagrees with the rumor mill:

“I hate to speculate about things like that, but I would say I would be surprised if this were his last year. I’m sure he’s given it some thought at some point about how long he wants to coach. He’s at the 15-year mark and that’s a long time in this league.”

While the rumors sound interesting, I definately agree with Rooney on this one – I think its more likely Cowher stays than goes. Stranger things have happened, though.

Both him and his wife have ties to the Raliegh area, having both gone to NC State. I have to say, though, that if Cowher moves back to the Raliegh area, this man is going to feel the heat every time his football squad under achieves. After all, an unemployed Super Bowl winning alumni coach who retired to get away from the stress of pro football is living just down the road, and that’s going to start the rumor mill around Chuck Amato more than anything else. I could see Cowher deciding that maybe the college game at a mid level school is something worth considering, if the chance arises.

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