NFL: Cowher didn’t like stomping the towel

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Associated Press
NEW YORK ó For a couple of minutes, Bill Cowher nearly forgot he wasn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coach any longer.
Cowher, a CBS-TV studio analyst since resigning in Pittsburgh nearly two years ago, became animated on the air while watching Titans players Keith Bulluck and LenDale White stomp on a Terrible Towel near the end of Tennessee’s 31-14 victory Sunday.
The moment produced a flashback for Cowher, who was well known for his competitiveness and respect-the-game mentality while coaching the Steelers from 1992-2006.
“That looks like a pregame talk the night before to me,” Cowher said, his eyes lighting up and his voice rising. “If (we’d) meet in the postseason, I know what I’m pulling out the night before the game.”
Cowher admonished White by saying, “You’ve got to learn … I wouldn’t do this, I wouldn’t go there” and said Bulluck should know better because, “You are a veteran, Bulluck.”
The Titans’ lack of respect for the Steelers’ symbol almost seemed enough to motivate Cowher to return to the sideline, if only for one game. Almost.
Cowher’s implied message to the Titans: There’s a way to win in the NFL and that wasn’t it, and you might regret that little sideshow should the Steelers return to Nashville for the AFC championship game in four weeks.
“I don’t care, I don’t care. … That’s just our stand,” Bulluck said. “Anybody that’s going to come through here in the playoffs, we plan to stomp them out.”
Still, Cowher emphasized, “It’s one game, it’s one game,” and the Titans’ victory will have no effect should the teams stage a rematch.
Cowher was speaking from experience.
Three years ago, Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh wiped his shoes with a Terrible Towel after Cincinnati won 38-31 in Pittsburgh in early December to all but clinch the AFC North. When the teams met again a month later in Cincinnati, the Steelers ó motivated by Houshmandzadeh’s shoe-wiping display ó won 31-17 for the first of their three conference road playoff wins that led to the Super Bowl.
Afterward, a revved-up Cowher was caught by NFL Films mocking the Bengals’ “Who Dey” chant in the locker room by yelling, “We Dey, We Dey, We Dey!”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher didn’t see the stomping on Terrible Towels, but after watching the footage Monday, it wasn’t happy fielding so many questions about it.
“This was just a couple guys playing around with a towel. It was unnecessary in my opinion,” Fisher said.
“They don’t understand the significance or the meaning of the towel itself to the organization, the Steelers history or the Steelers fans. On one hand, I think they were having fun and just playing with a towel. It was certainly not a shot at the organization or the players or the staff or the fans.”