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Bill Cowher Shoots Down Deion Sanders’ Idea for Hall of Fame Upper Room



Steelers HC Bill Cowher
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher gives his Hall of Fame speech in Canton Ohio, Aug. 8, 2021. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Earlier this season, Pro Football Hall of Fame member and current Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders suggested that there should be an “upper room” to the Hall of Fame, to separate and highlight the best of the best to have ever played in the National Football League, but former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Bill Cowher doesn’t agree.

Sanders believes that the Hall of Fame has become too inclusive in recent years, and that selection should be reserved for those that were truly the greatest of all time.

“We’ve gotten soft, you know we’ve gotten soft,” Sanders told King. “It’s open house, is it not? What do you call a Hall of Famer? A guy who changed the game. … You shouldn’t have to meet a quota every year to send guys in. If they ain’t that, they ain’t that. That’s not right.”

Sanders acknowledges that the people that have already been elected aren’t going to be un-elected, so he suggested that the Hall of Fame institute a greater honor for the very best of the best, what he calls an upper room to the Hall of Fame.

In an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show this week, Cowher disagreed with Sanders’ idea.

“I think we all recognize there were some quality players and coaches in there that, you know, what they did was probably more than what you did,” Cowher said. “But yet, I think what you did warranted contribution of being recognized as one of the best at what you did. And who is to measure what that criteria is to put you into that other element of it?

“I understand it. I didn’t go in as a first ballot. Maybe there’s circumstances that don’t put you in there for first ballot. I know there’s a lot of media involved with it, and I wasn’t one of the most cordial guys at press conferences at times. At the same time, I feel very proud of the record that I had, and I will match it with a lot of the people that are in there.

“Listen, we all recognize Deion Sanders. First ballot. I think we all know the first ballot, and we all know the players that are in there. I think once we get in there and to say there’s a first class and a second class, I think that would be a disservice to the honor.”

Cowher makes a good point. There have been 91 individuals inducted as first-ballot Hall of Famers, including Steelers Bobby Layne, Jack Ham, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Rod Woodson and Troy Polamalu. The players that have earned that honor have already been acknowledged as the best of the very best.

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