NFL: Steelers can’t see Cowher on Brown’s sideline

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 25, 2008

Associated Press
PITTSBURGH ó Some of his former Steelers players would love watching Bill Cowher spray another team with spittle and swear words. What they don’t anticipate seeing is their former boss coaching the rival Cleveland Browns, at least not next season.
The Browns (4-11) may target Cowher to become their next coach shortly after they end their disappointing season Sunday in Pittsburgh. Coach Romeo Crennel is taking most of the blame for the collapse following last season’s promising 10-6 record, and there is nothing to suggest he will be brought back.
As much as the Browns are believed to want Cowher ó they probably would have displayed him on the team Christmas card if he had asked ó it’s difficult for some Steelers to envision him wearing orange and brown by next season.
Cowher has told former colleagues in Pittsburgh that being out of coaching is better than he envisioned; he enjoys the less-stressful life of an NFL analyst for CBS; and likes not being stuck in an office for 12 hours-plus a day much of the year.
And if Cowher chooses to coach again, he might want a team better equipped to win in the near future ó much like the Steelers he inherited from Chuck Noll in 1992 ó than one that’s in a messy state such as the Browns.
“That would shock me (if he coached the Browns),” defensive end Brett Keisel said Wednesday. “But it’s his decision. If he wants to do it, that would be great. I would get to see him a couple of more times a year, which I would like. It would be cool.”
Sometimes only competition can satisfy a person as driven as Cowher, one reason why the Steelers will never say never to a Cowher return to the sidelines.
“It would be different at first seeing him over there, but we’d get over it quickly and go about trying to beat the Browns,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “He’s doing well but, nothing against his TV personality, he’s probably a better coach. That’s a compliment to his coaching because he’s such a phenomenal football coach.”
The Steelers have watched too many coaches turn up in too many places to say it can’t happen.
“If that situation arises (Cowher in Cleveland), we’ll have to deal with it,” left tackle Max Starks said.
But Cowher, a native Pittsburgher and the jut-jawed symbol of the Steelers for years, in Cleveland? For real?
“I don’t even want to think about that,” wide receiver Hines Ward said.
Another question is what the Browns would have to dangle before Cowher to lure him out of a cushy job that allows him to spend most of his time in his adopted hometown of Raleigh.
Perhaps $8-10 million per year? Full control of all player personnel matters? Hiring some of his former Steelers colleagues?
Cowher’s agents have not commented this season about the Cowher-to-Cleveland rumors.
If Cowher returns to coach against them at some point, some Steelers players plan to embrace the rivalry ó and the man, too.
“I love that guy,” Keisel said.