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Bill Belichick Would Have Loved to Coach with Bill Cowher

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher came up short against Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots in the 2001 and 2004 AFC Championship Game. This was during the Spygate era, but Cowher has always defended Belichick.

While many former Steelers players disagree, Cowher thinks the Patriots just out-played the Steelers in the AFC Championship Games.

“It’s only cheating if you get caught,” Cowher told The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette in 2021. “Like any player, if you’re going to hold him, don’t get caught. If you get caught you’re wrong, if you don’t you’re right. I always thought we never lost the games to New England because of Spygate. If he got the calls because we didn’t do a very good job of making sure we signaled those in, that’s on us, it’s not on him. Because we’re always looking for competitive edges. I think as any coach whether it’s someone’s stance, someone’s split, someone’s formation. You’re looking at someone’s eyes, how are they coming out of a huddle? You’re always looking for those little things that give you a competitive edge and that to me is what that was.”

That mutual respect goes both ways. Belichick praised Cowher when he got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021 as a member of the Class of 2020.

“Bill had a tremendous NFL career that encompassed a lot – player, assistant coach, coordinator and head coach. He was a great defensive coach. Schematically his teams were one of the very best over the course of two decades,” Belichick said. “Our teams had some fiercely competitive battles that made me a better coach. I admire and learned from his complete mastery of coaching essentials – motivation, strategy, fundamentals and physical play. Bill and I have been close friends for 35 years and I couldn’t be happier for him.

Cowher and Belichick go way back. It was revealed in Cowher’s “A Football Life” episode that he and Belichick spent an entire day at Giants Stadium in the late 1980s going over defensive schematics. Cowher was the Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator at the time, while Belichick was the Giants DC.

“For two years, ’89 and ’90, we were both coordinators, and we shared information back and forth a little bit. Not often, but periodically, and we got to know each other,” Cowher said in his “A Football Life” episode.

In a recent interview with Mike Tannebaum of the 33rd Team, Belichick was asked who would’ve he liked to coach with. And one of his answers was Cowher.

“Mike Shanahan, we always had a lot of trouble with him,” Belichick said. “And, you know, on the defensive side of the ball … I had a ton of respect for Bill Cowher and Marty Schottenheimer. Of course, they’re kind of from the same tree.

“And honestly, I put Jimmy Johnson up there probably at the top of the list, just what he did defensively at Dallas and then at Miami. And then, you know, Dave Wannstedt kind of followed that a little bit. When I think back about how much I learned in preparing for them and getting ready to play them, they had a lot to do with making me work harder and be better.”

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Less Tomlin
Less Tomlin
June 9, 2024 9:58 am

Zing! Perhaps Tomlin can be the Assistant to the Traveling Secretary.