Bill Cowher’s record speaks for itself. He compiled a 149-90-1 (62.3 percent winning percentage) record in 15 years as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach. He won eight division titles that included four straight from 1994-97. Pittsburgh made the playoffs ten times and advanced to at least the divisional round nine times. They reached the AFC Championship six times and won two of them. Cowher’s Steelers won Super Bowl XL as the first sixth-seed to ever do it. His postseason record was 12-9 (57.1 percent).
Also remarkable is that Pittsburgh was 108-1-1 in games in which they led by at least 11 points.
Cowher’s detractors will point to his 2-4 record in AFC Championship games (with all four of those losses occurring at home) and 8-9 playoff record before the Steelers’ Super Bowl run in ’05.
Cowher is getting in the Hall, but not just because of his coaching. “The Chin”, as he is so often called, is also a media personality. Most love him.
While I do think he is a possible Hall of Famer, I can think of other coaches who have waited longer and accomplished much more than Cowher. Number one on this list would be Tom Flores, who was the first to a number of milestones.
Tom Flores Resume
Flores won a Super Bowl as a player, an assistant coach and two as a head coach.
Tom Flores is one of only two coaches with two Super Bowl championships not in the Hall of Fame. John Madden was inducted into the Hall with only one Super Bowl win and now Cowher has been. You also have a coach like Marv Levy who never won a Super Bowl in his career and he is enshrined. I believe the main contributing factor in this is Flores’ demeanor. He was a quietly confident leader who did not need to put his ego before his players. Reporters didn’t get great sound bites from him and he didn’t guarantee winning games or do anything else that would call attention to himself. On top of that, a lot of people thought that Flores was just a puppet to owner Al Davis. If that were to be a fact, how did Madden get in?
Answer me this question: If it was because he was Al Davis’ puppet, how many Super Bowls have the Raiders won since Flores left?
Furthermore, Flores was one of only twenty players who were in the AFL for its entire ten-year existence and finished as the 5th leading passer in AFL history. He was a trailblazer for minorities, an excellent player, and multi-championship coach. He should be in the Hall of Fame. If someone like Marv Levy gets in, how can you leave Tom Flores out?
Hall of Popularity
Let’s face it, nowadays every Hall of Fame is kind of a popularity contest. Anyone who holds a microphone regularly or gets one put in their faces is bound to get a nudge forward. On Sunday we found out Jimmy Johnson got in. I am not complaining because it’s about time! Johnson won two Super Bowls and completely turned the Cowboys franchise around in a few short years. But just like Cowher, Levy, and the other coaching pop-star in Tony Dungy, Johnson’s resume falls short of Flores’, yet he’s on national television every week and he is still in the limelight. Flores is not!
Let me end with this. Tom Flores was a trailblazer in pro football. He was the first Mexican-American Quarterback, the first Mexican-American Head Coach, and the first Mexican-American General Manager, and when you throw in the 5th leading passer in AFL history and the Head Coach of two Super Bowl Champion teams, how can he not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?