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The 'family core culture' that the Rooney family created had a profound impact on Bill Cowher

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

(Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images)

A drive from Pittsburgh to Canton, Ohio is not far at all (just one hour and 57 minutes to be exact), so it's expected that the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium will be packed with Steelers fans when the Hall of Fame honors five members of the Steelers organization on Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, respectively. Troy Polamalu, Bill Cowher and Donnie Shell from the Class of 2020, and Alan Faneca and Bill Nunn from the Class of 2021. Nunn was enshrined posthumously during a ceremony by the Hall of Fame in April, but he'll be honored on Aug. 8 as well with the rest of the Class of 2021.

"I think it's going to be a special weekend," Cowher said during his Pro Football Hall of Fame press conference yesterday via Teresa Varley of "It will be a great way to kick off this 2021 season and certainly Saturday will be a special day as will Sunday."

This past St. Patrick's Day, Cowher revealed that Steelers President Art Rooney II would present him into the Hall of Fame. It was a choice that was easy for Cowher, as the Rooneys always treated him like he was family.

"I was blessed to have a guy like Dan Rooney and the whole Rooney family, to be honest with you," Cowher said. "To come there at 34 years old, and when I left there I don't know if I was a better coach than when I got there, but I was a better father and better husband because of the Rooney family and the culture they created.

"I remember from the time I went through the interview process with Dan Rooney, he probably called me while I was in Kansas City five or six times and the conversations didn't last long, they lasted 10 or 15 minutes. But 10 of those 15 minutes was about family. The more you talk to someone, the more you get a feel for someone. Those are the things. Through the course of my 15 years, Dan would walk down, Art would walk down, and they would ask how are you doing, how is the family doing. Let's talk about the state of the NFL, how can we make it better. He always had a bigger picture in mind than the game we were playing that week. Yes, that was important. But the overall thing is we are in this together."

Cowher was born and raised in Crafton, just 10 minutes away from Three Rivers Stadium and now Heinz Field. Along with becoming the head coach of his hometown at the age of 34, Cowher accomplished his dream of being a Super Bowl champion when he led the Steelers to their fifth Lombardi Trophy in the 2005-2006 season.

Through his 15 years as the Steelers head coach, Cowher always understood that the logo was bigger than him.

"You talk about the mystique of the Pittsburgh Steelers, when you walk through that door you are part of something that is bigger than you are," Cowher said. "That is something every time I did, it was bigger than what I was. Part of that bigger picture was a family core culture that existed and that started at the top."


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