Bill Cowher was many things during what turned out to be his Hall-of-Fame career as the head coach of the Steelers.
He may have been a master motivator above all else.
Cowher became a larger-than-life presence on the sideline for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was his penchant for pushing players’ buttons in a manner that was appropriate for seemingly any occasion.
In his determination to deliver what he deemed necessary, Cowher wasn’t above fabrication.
The 1999 regular-season opener at Cleveland was one of his finest hours in that regard.
That was Cleveland’s franchise-resurrection game after having lost the Browns to Baltimore at the conclusion of the 1995 season.
The celebration was understandably profound on the Browns’ part now that Cleveland finally had its team back. And the pregame festivities were such that the Browns approached the Steelers in advance and asked if the Steelers wouldn’t mind not being introduced as a team prior to kickoff, as is customary in the NFL, given the circumstances of the moment.
No problem, the Steelers responded, we understand and we won’t be offended.
Cowher then took that ball and ran with it in a manner befitting Marion Motley, Leroy Kelly or even Jim Brown.
“It’s like getting a hall pass,” Cowher recalled this week during a visit with the DVE Morning Show. “That was perfect.”
Cowher addressed his players before they eventually took the field at the sparkling, new Cleveland Browns Stadium and fanned the flames.
Fan the flames?
Cowher poured gasoline on the fire.
He emphasized to his Steelers how much they were being disrespected by the Browns.
He articulated, in all likelihood with a “Cowher Shower” that sprayed those closest to him (and perhaps even those in the back of the locker room), how a team that hadn’t even played an NFL game yet was upstaging and insulting one of the NFL’s storied franchises.
The sales pitch was delivered with a bubbling level of outrage that even had Cowher momentarily believing a great injustice had been inflicted upon the Steelers, one that absolutely, positively had to be rectified.
“I couldn’t even make it more personal myself,” Cowher said. “I was actually getting mad talking about it. ‘Oh, you can’t even introduce us now?’ Thank you, Cleveland PR (public relations) for handing me that.
“That’s all I needed, I appreciate it. Sure, we won’t come out. We’ll come out for kickoff and we’ll see what happens after that.”
What happened was the Steelers beat the Browns, 43-0.
It ruined Drew Carey’s night, among others.
It made Bill Cowher’s day.
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