Bill Cowher is no different than anyone else who has been in former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis' corner, he thought he should have been a first ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. While it took longer than anticipated, Cowher is thrilled that Bettis is finally getting his due as a member of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2015.
"I am just happy for him," said Cowher. "You look at what he has done over a period of time, how great he was. He was meant to be in the Hall of Fame for what he has done and how he did it. He deserves to be in there."
Cowher coached Bettis from the time he arrived in Pittsburgh via a trade with the St. Louis Rams, through his retirement after the Steelers Super Bowl XL victory. And Cowher saw more than anybody what made Bettis special.
"For a big man I don't think there was a back that had better feet," said Cowher. "His ability to jump cut in a hole, his ability to throw a great body lean. Just everything he did. He was able to do it consistently year in and year out. He was so durable. He was there every Sunday.
"I think through the course of his career you watched him grow and develop and you watched his influence on the people around him. The measure of greatness is when you see how other people inspire those around them. He had that presence around him and did that."
Jerome Bettis and his family visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Cowher said it was fun coaching Bettis, not just because he was such a talented running back, but because of the attitude that he brought to the table and the approach he had to the game he loved to play.
"He sent all of the right messages," said Cowher. "There has never been a more selfless person. It was never about Jerome, it was always about the team. When you see a guy who is selfless, dependable and tough, with the consistency he brought every week, the amount of emotion he brought to the game, the professionalism and fun he brought to the game. He was a joy to be around. There was a time to work and a time to play. It was great to have a guy like him in the locker room.
"He is everything you would want. He accepted any role, he gave you everything he had, he worked at it, and he carried himself like a professional. He was a great leader, a great worker, and had a presence about him. He was a great role model for every young person in this league. He is a Hall of Fame running back and a Hall of Fame person. He handled himself with class and dignity. Jerome Bettis was a consummate pro and great football player. Ask anybody who tried to tackle him."