Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Can you blame Bill Cowher?
Can you blame him if he wants more money?
Isn't that the American way?
Money has to be the primary reason Cowher is on the verge of leaving the Steelers after 15 seasons. It's a bit hard to believe family concerns are the main issue. Cowher's wife and youngest daughter didn't have to move to the family's $2.5 million dream home in North Carolina last summer. He could have spent a lot more time with them this season if they had stayed in Fox Chapel.
But so what if it's about the money?
There's absolutely nothing wrong with that in Cowher's case.
Cowher said a couple of telling things after the Steelers' 23-17 overtime win Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals that made it pretty clear his uncertain future here is the result of a money issue. He went out of his way to say he's not burned out after so many years in his high-profile, high-pressure job and that he didn't need to step away, even briefly, from the game. He also said he needed to talk to "some people" before making a final decision about quitting the Steelers. Sure, he'll hash it out with his wife and daughter. Of course, he will. But he'll also talk this week with Steelers owner Dan Rooney and his son, Art II. You bet he'll talk to them.
Without coming out and saying it Sunday, Cowher made it seem obvious that he'll give the Rooneys one final chance to meet his price.
Hey, there's no harm in asking, is there?
Certainly, Cowher has the leverage to do it even if he's under contract to the Steelers for next season. He knows if he sits out the year that he can come back in 2008 as a much-coveted free agent. Considering his track record, more than one NFL team will rush to pay him the kind of money he wants, somewhere in the $8 million-a-year range that Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren makes, which is significantly more than the $6 million-to-$6.5 million-a-year deal the Steelers are believed to have offered.
Tell the truth.
You'd go for it, too.
Some, of course, will argue that Cowher owes the Steelers better than that.
I beg to differ.
Yes, the Rooneys are the best owners in sports. Any coach would love working for them. It's no accident they've had just two head coaches in 38 years.
It's also true the Steelers gave Cowher his big break, hiring him in 1992 when he was a young, little-known defensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs. They were patient with him when he failed to win a Super Bowl for so long, losing four AFC championship games at home and Super Bowl XXX after the 1995 season. More significant, they stuck with him after his teams went 7-9, 6-10 and 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs from 1998-2000. A lot of other NFL owners -- maybe all of them -- would have fired him.