PITTSBURGH — Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Centennial Slate for the Class of 2020 — and he found out while broadcasting on national television.
Cowher was told of the selection by Dave Baker, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, who surprised him in the studio of CBS Sports while he was broadcasting on "The NFL Today" pregame show Saturday night, prior to the Baltimore Ravens divisional playoff game with the Tennessee Titans.
Cowher, a Crafton, Pa., native who went to Carlynton High School, won one Super Bowl, won eight division titles and made the playoffs in 10 of his 15 years with the Steelers.
"None of this would have been possible if Dan Rooney didn't take a chance on a 34-year-old kid from Crafton," Cowher said on the set with his wife and daughter watching off to the side.
A special blue-ribbon panel met at the Hall of Fame in Canton this past Wednesday to elect the Centennial Slate. This is the first time any member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame was elected during a selection meeting held in Canton.
"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."
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). They were voted on from a list of 38 finalists.
The remainder of the 15-person Centennial Slate for the Class of 2020 will be revealed live at 7 a.m. Wednesday on the NFL Network.
Cowher was hired in January 1992 replacing legendary Steelers coach Chuck Noll.
Cowher led the Steelers to two Super Bowls, winning one and losing one. His first as a 38-year-old head coach, then the youngest head coach ever in the Super Bowl, was a loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX, 27-17, in 1996.
He won his only Super Bowl at Detroit's Ford Field, when the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL in 2006.
In all, Cowher led the Steelers to six American Football Conference championships. His record as the Steelers head coach was 149-90-1.
He left after the 2006 season to spend more time with his family, including his first wife Kaye, who died from skin cancer in 2010. Cowher has been with CBS as an analyst since 2007.