Bill Cowher Hall of Fame Profile: 2020 Inductee

As Bill Cowher is inducted into the Hall of Fame, let's take a look back at his career, coaching record, career highlights, and net worth.

After a long wait, 2021 will see Bill Cowher inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As one of the 2020 centennial class members, Cowher will be inducted 15 years after his retirement from coaching. Let’s take a look back at Cowher’s Hall of Fame career, his coaching record, career highlights, and net worth.

Bill Cowher’s Hall of Fame career

Cowher was born in Crafton, Pennsylvania, and excelled as a multi-sport athlete in Carlynton High School. He moved to NC State to play college football, and while in Raleigh, North Carolina, he played linebacker, was a team captain, and was named team MVP in his senior year. Cowher went on to spend six years in the NFL, largely playing on special teams.

Cowher then began his coaching career with the Cleveland Browns. His coaching career started as a special teams coach, before progressing to secondary coach. Cowher was then hired by his mentor, Marty Schottenheimer, to be the defensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989. He would spend three seasons as the DC for the Chiefs.

Cowher immediately had big shoes to fill

Anytime you get your first head coaching job, it is filled with pressure. Furthermore, when it is replacing a franchise hero, things get even tougher. After narrowly missing on the Cincinnati Bengals’ head coach position the previous year, Pittsburgh hired Cowher to replace Chuck Noll as head coach of the Steelers.

Noll had spent 23 years with the Steelers, winning four Super Bowls in that time. However, the team had only made the playoff once in the previous seven seasons and had not won a Super Bowl since the 1979 season.

Cowher had immediate success with the Steelers

Cowher brought immediate success to Pittsburgh, winning the AFC Central in his first season. The Steelers would lose in Cowher’s first playoff game, but they were defeated by a Buffalo Bills team that would go on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Overall, Cowher got off to a slow start in the playoffs, losing his first two postseason games as a head coach. However, in his third appearance (1994), Cowher led his team to their first playoff win since 1989.

The following year, Cowher led the Steelers to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1979. Pittsburgh defeated the Indianapolis Colts 20-16 in the AFC Conference Championship. Unfortunately for the Steelers, they would lose Super Bowl XXX 27-17 to the Dallas Cowboys.

Under Cowher, the Steelers would win playoff games in all of their future appearances but never progressed beyond the AFC Championship Game until 2005. That season, the Steelers beat the Bengals (31-17), Colts (21-18), and Denver Broncos (34-17) to progress to Super Bowl XL, where the Steelers would emerge 21-10 victors over the Seattle Seahawks.

Cowher would coach one more season after that Super Bowl victory. Before stepping aside, Cowher and the Steelers would go 8-8 as defending champions. Cowher narrowly missed out on Pro Football Network’s top 11 head coaches of all time. However, alongside Mike Tomlin, he was named as an honorable mention.

Cowher is part of a rich history of Steelers head coaches

It is remarkable the consistency that the Steelers have had at the head coaching position. Dating back to 1957, the Steelers have had just six head coaches. Moreover, since Noll took over in 1969, just three people have had the title of Steelers head coach.

Following Noll’s lead as head coach for 23 seasons, Cowher took the reigns for 15. Tomlin has since been the head coach for the following 14 seasons.

In those 52 seasons, the Steelers have had more playoff appearances (31) than losing seasons (9). To put that into further context, Noll, Cowher, and Tomlin have combined for eight Super Bowl appearances — just one fewer than they have combined losing records.

Cowher’s coaching tree

Here is a list of NFL head coaches who served as an assistant under Cowher in Pittsburgh.

  • Bruce Arians
  • Chan Gailey
  • David Culley
  • Dick LeBeau
  • Dom Capers
  • Jim Haslett
  • Ken Whisenhunt
  • Marvin Lewis
  • Mike Mularkey

Bill Cowher’s coaching record

Cowher was a head coach in the NFL for 15 years, all of which he spent with the Steelers. He took charge of the Steelers for a total of 240 regular-season games, finishing with a 149-90-1 record (.623).

In his 15 seasons, Cowher had just three losing seasons as a head coach (1998, 1999, and 2003). In contrast, his Steelers teams finished with double-digit wins on nine occasions. Pittsburgh also won their respective division eight times during that stretch. Meanwhile, the Steelers made the playoffs in 10 seasons during Cowher’s time as head coach.

While the offense was never poor, the hallmark of Cowher’s Steelers teams was their defense. Over the 15 seasons he led the franchise, they were a top-five unit in yards allowed seven times and among the top 10 a total of 12 times.

Cowher’s playoff record as a coach

In the course of his 15 years, Cowher’s team made the playoffs 10 times and played a total of 21 postseason games. Under his leadership, the Steelers went to the playoffs in his first six years.

Overall, Cowher would guide the Steelers to a 12-9 playoff record (.571), with two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl victory. Including his playoff record, Cowher retired with a 161-99-1 record as a coach.

Career highlights

What are the career highlights for Cowher from his time as a head coach in the NFL?

  • Super Bowl Champion (XL)
  • AP NFL Coach of the Year (1992)
  • Best Coach/Manager ESPY Award (2006)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Football Hall of Fame (2011)

Bill Cowher’s net worth

Reportedly, Cowher has a net worth of $18 million in 2021. His salary during his time as a coach is not fully known, but according to the Post Gazette, he signed a three-year contract extension worth $7 million in 2001.

Following his NFL coaching career, Cowher joined The NFL Today on CBS as a studio analyst. He is still part of the CBS family and reportedly earns $3 million a year in salary.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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