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Cowher goes on the family plan

Steelers coach steps down after 15 years, but he is expected to return to NFL soon. Two of his assistants are candidates in Pittsburgh.

January 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — His was the best-known jaw in the NFL, a jutting block of granite that perfectly reflected his toughness and passion for winning.

What no one seemed to know about Bill Cowher was that finally winning the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers not only calmed his competitiveness, but sent him off on a football sabbatical with a look he rarely flashed before: a smile of satisfaction.

Cowher resigned Friday after 15 seasons as the Steelers' coach, a job he probably could have held for life -- or, at least, for as long as the 23 years predecessor Chuck Noll held it. The Steelers immediately began searching for a new coach for only the second time since 1969, a span when other NFL teams have had as many as 15 coaches.

Team President Art Rooney II said Steelers assistants Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm are among the candidates. Both are interviewing for some of the other four current NFL job openings, with Whisenhunt already talking to the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals.

One word noticeably absent during Cowher's farewell to the Steelers was retirement -- he said it makes him sound old. He is only 49, an age when some head coaches are only being hired, and he didn't deny he might want to coach again someday. Maybe soon.

For now, the man Steelers chairman Dan Rooney calls "one of the great head coaches" plans to spend time with his family at their new home in Raleigh, N.C., where his wife, Kaye, and youngest daughter, Lindsay, relocated last summer.

"I'm not burned out," Cowher said. "There comes a time in your life -- I'm healthy and happy, and I've been fortunate -- you've got to prioritize things. My family has made a lot of sacrifices for me, and I'm looking forward to being there for them. It's the right time."

That means Cowher and his wife will be attending a lot of basketball games in the next few months because daughters Meagan and Lauren play at Princeton.

Cowher's 161-99-1 record ranks him fourth among current-era coaches in career wins. He won a Super Bowl last season after six trips to the AFC championship game and took the Steelers to the playoffs 10 times.



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Best winning percentages of NFL coaches with at least 100 career victories in the regular season and playoffs:

*--* COACH W L T PCT Vince Lombardi 105 35 6 750 John Madden 112 39 7 739 George Allen 118 54 5 686 George Halas 324 151 31 671 Don Shula 347 173 6 665 George Seifert 124 67 0 649 Joe Gibbs 162 93 0 635 Tony Dungy 119 70 0 630 Curly Lambeau 229 134 22 623 Bill Cowher 161 99 1 619


Source: Associated Press

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