Bill Cowher Enshrinement Speech

ANNOUNCER:  Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Bill Cowher for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Art Rooney, II.  (Applause.)

BILL COWHER:  First thing I would like to do is to say congrats to my fellow enshrinees and all the gold jackets on this stage tonight.  It's an honor to go in with each and every one of you.  Your individual careers and journeys are remarkable and inspiring. 

But what a weekend for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  (Applause) It is unbelievable to me to go in the Hall of Fame on the same weekend with two guys you drafted, Troy Polamalu and Alan Faneca.  (Applause.)

Also Donnie Shell and the late great Bill Nunn.  (Applause.)

The Pittsburgh Steelers on this stage, the gold jackets on this stage, you guys set the standard and created the culture.  It's our job to keep it going. 

So I guess speaking last has its benefits.  You're not infringing on the next guy if you go too long.  If the music starts to play because I do go long it won't bother me.  I'm used to talking while music is playing.  My wife is a musician. 

For those of you still here, thank you for staying.  (Applause.)

To get proper perspective, I’ve been in football since the age of 10, 54 years.  The last 42 years I been in the National Football League as a player, coach or analyst.  The last 30 years I been with just two teams and matter of fact, this year marks 15 years with each one. 

When you're together for 15 years a team becomes your family, my Pittsburgh Steelers family and my CBS family.  (Applause.)

Thank you Sean McManus and David Berson and all my CBS colleagues that are out here tonight.  CBS and Pittsburgh are very similar.  It's all about the culture and the people.  For 30 years it's been a blessing to call work your home away from home.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

How do you put in such little time the impact that others have had on this journey?  I'm going to attempt to do this by the pockets of people I surrounded myself with.  Number one, my friends.  My friends from Carlynton High School to North Carolina to Pittsburgh and to New York.  I've always preached it's important to surround yourself with good people.

People who are with you for who you are as a person and not what you do.  Thank you for your unconditional friendship.  Thank you, guys.  (Applause.)

Secondly, I talk about the players.  To all the guys I played with from Pop Warner football in Crafton, Pennsylvania, to Carlynton High School, to my NC State crew that's out here, to the Cleveland Browns, and to the Philadelphia Eagles --

No, no, don't go there.  I got two kids born in Cleveland. 

Playing football is about camaraderie and having each other's back.  It's all about building relationships and friendships through the workouts, the practices, the games, and all the time we spend together.  Thank you guys. 

The players who played for me as a coach from the Cleveland Browns to the Kansas City Chiefs and to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Since our last enshrinement we saw tonight the memoriam.  We've lost a number of Hall of Famers, but there is one player in particular who is not with us tonight but embodies what this evening is all about, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene.  (Applause.)

Tara Greene is with us tonight.  Tara, he was a special man who I had the privilege of coaching.  He embraced life and his passion was exuded in everything that he did.  He's with us in spirit tonight. 

The game is about the players.  For all you guys that played for me I want to thank you for all your sacrifice, commitment, and trust.

As a coach you ask people to trust, and what is trust?  Trust is something as a coach you have to earn.  Trust is unconditional, but trust can be powerful. 

To each and every one of you and whatever role you played, I want you to know it never went unappreciated.  You are a reflection of our culture.

(Applause.)

To the coaches and support staff, coaches who coached me, thank you for pushing me and believing in me and teaching me.  People like Chuck Amato, my linebacker coach at NC State.  Thanks, Coach.  I know it was a handful at times, but you always set me straight. 

To all the coaches who coached with me, I always said that NFL assistant coaches are teachers, and I learned from all of you.  Thank you for your sacrifice, dedication, and loyalty. 

Coaching, like playing, is a brotherhood.  You share the joys of winning, the frustrations of losing, and thrive on the next opportunity to do it again.

During the season we spend more time together than we do with our families, so I always want to send a special thank you to the coaches' spouses for running the home.  Takes a special partner to be a coach's wife.  (Applause.)

To the sports staff, to the trainers and doctors, to the administrative assistants and front office and personnel departments, you lean on them.  You can't operate without their expertise.  I want to thank all of you for your patience with me. 

But lastly, my family.  All started for me in Crafton, Pennsylvania.  My mom and dad, Dorothy and Laird, Laird was called Bill, hence I was called Billy.  And my two brothers, Dale and Doug.  We were a close family.  Our schedules were formed around sports games and practices and whatever summer jobs we had.

We had a special set of parents who loved each other and pushed and supported their three boys unconditionally and instilled the values we live by today.  Thanks, mom and dad.  (Applause.)

To my late wife, Kaye, and our three daughters, Meagan, Lauren, and Lindsay.  We are very insulated family.  Kaye was the rock.  She was a great partner.  You three girls gave me the balance and perspective and drive to succeed.  I just wanted to make you proud to say that I was your father.  I love you guys and the women you've become.  (Applause.)

To my wife Veronica, Queen V as she's known, thank you for all you bring to the family.  We need a little music and harmony to blend this journey together.  Thank you, and I love you. 

But last I just want to say to my two main mentors, two individuals helped shape and mold me into the person I am today.  First Marty Schottenheimer, the only head coach I've ever worked for.  He talked me out of playing into coaching when I had never coached before.  He gave me an opportunity to be defensive coordinator when I had never done it before. 

As a head coach he won over 200 games in over 20 seasons.  He had 14 assistant coaches go on and become NFL head coaches, four of which who have won a Super Bowl.  He was a master motivator, and stickler to detail, and for him it all started with preparation. 

This man has not only influenced the game, but he has influence anybody who has ever played for him, coached with him, or coached against him. 

I speak on behalf of many.  Thank you, Coach.  You did so much for so many for so long.  One day you will be in the Hall of Fame.  I also want to say thank you to Pat Schottenheimer.  Thank you, Pat, for all you did for Kaye and I as you took us under your wing.  And Kristen, your father, my first meeting with him was a Saturday morning basketball game of yours.  He was coaching me to you through me, so thank you for having a good game.

And last, Dan Rooney and Rooney family.  I came to Pittsburgh at the age of 34, I knew the tradition, expectation of Pittsburgh Steelers.  Hell I grew up there and saw Chuck Noll and the '70s Steelers did in revitalizing the Pittsburgh area. 

What I didn't know is how did it work on the inside?  Who were the Rooneys.  Well, in my fifteen years as head coach I grew in every aspect of my life.  Dan was a visionary leader.  He never missed a teaching moment and inspired those around him.

The Rooney family values were always about family, community, and just do the right thing.  Isn't that what this Hall of Fame family is all about?  (Applause.)

Let's use this platform to make a difference.  Winning was a byproduct of Dan Rooney's approach to embracing the process.  I'll leave you with one last example.  2005, prior to our historic run as a first six seed to ever win a championship, that Monday he came into me and Dan Rooney said -- gave me these, rosary beads.  I said, Dan, I'm not Catholic.  Dan said to me without missing a beat, Coach, it doesn't matter.  Every little bit helps.

Well, Dan, I still have them today.  To those who unfortunately are not with us, my parents, Laird and Dorothy, my wife, Kaye, Marty Schottenheimer, and Dan and Pat Rooney, you are here in spirit.  I feel you, I love you, and hope you're as proud of me as I am of you.  Thank you Steeler Nation. 



Close