Cowher on Tomlin: 'Mike has been himself'

Bill Cowher walked around the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Thursday, shaking hands, getting hugs and enjoying some friendly banter with those he worked with during his 15 year tenure as the Steelers' coach.

Ironically, it was a similar setting 10 years ago to the day, when Cowher shook a lot of hands and got plenty of hugs on Jan. 5, 2007, the day he retired as the Steelers' coach.

But on this day, Cowher was in the building to talk with Coach Mike Tomlin for a story on CBS's 'The NFL Today,' which will air before Sunday's AFC Wild Card game against the Miami Dolphins.

"I had the chance to sit and just talk with Mike before the interview," said Cowher. "It was just him and I in the room, he was watching tape, and we were sharing some wonderful stories. It's just amazing how special a place this is in so many respects. Not just in the building, but the city, the environment. It's a great place to raise your family, a place that keeps values, a place that has high standards. A place where you get to enjoy the simplicities of life and at the same time the thrills of a lifetime.

"Being back here, talking with him 10 years later for a piece that hopefully makes people realize how special a place this is."

The two sat down in front of a backdrop that would give you chills, a backdrop with Tomlin, Cowher, and Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Noll surrounded by six Lombardi Trophies. It's a backdrop that shows the legacy of Steelers' coaches, a legacy they all took pride in.

When Cowher retired, he wanted the team to be left in good hands. And he knows it was with Tomlin.

"What Mike has done speaks volumes," said Cowher. "You feel very blessed and fortunate to come to a city, an organization, a place and you just grab the tradition and run with it, but you still have to be yourself. Mike has been himself. He has done a remarkable job of keeping the level of expectation to where it's been. I was blessed to have followed a legendary coach in Chuck Noll. I think we have all been blessed to work for the Rooney family.

"With Mike, I think you see the same guy today that you saw 10 years ago. I think wiser, more wisdom, and more life experiences. You grow but you are still who you are. He and I never really talked about the team, never talked about how the dynamic works in this building. I never did that with Chuck. You have to forge your own path. Mike has done that. I did it. Chuck did it. Again I go back to one common denominator in all of this, the Rooney family."

Earlier this week Ben Roethlisberger was asked what Tomlin did differently from the Steelers' four-game losing streak earlier in the season, to the seven-game winning streak they are currently on. His answer was simple, 'nothing.' And Cowher thinks that is perfect.

"It takes getting pushed to limits of extremes to realize how good you can be or how good you need to be," said Cowher. "For a coach, the biggest thing is there is no sense of panic, but I am sure there is a sense of urgency. There is a lot of difference in that. Players are very perceptive. For Ben to make that statement, it says a lot. It shows that Mike is accountable, it started with him and it shows his ability to keep things in perspective."

Cowher, like just about everyone else, heard the recent comments made by Steelers' Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, who is part of FOX's pregame show, where he referred to Tomlin as a 'cheerleader.' Cowher wasn't a fan of what Bradshaw said, but also added some levity.

"It's unfortunate because it comes from a guy like Terry who is so much a part of the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers," said Cowher. "With all due respect to Terry, there is a lot more that gets involved with coaching than playing. I know Terry understands that. I think it's more unfortunate and a little disappointing.

"But Mike and I have been called a lot worse than that. If the worse thing I was called is a cheerleader, man. I have been called a lot worse than that in my 15 years here and I am sure Mike has been called a lot worse in his 10 years here."

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