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Steelers family culture impacted Cowher

In less than a month, former Steelers Coach Bill Cowher will stand on the stage at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, alongside a player he drafted and coached in Troy Polamalu, and a player he watched as a kid in Donnie Shell, all being enshrined as members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

It will be the culmination in what has been a long wait after his enshrinement in 2020 was postponed because of the pandemic, but he knows it will all be worth the wait.

"You realize when you go through this that all the people that were part of the process allowed you to have that success," said Cowher during a zoom call on Tuesday. "For me to be able to be enshrined is the culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people, support staff, players and coaches, family and friends that were there along the way. I think as we get closer and all these fall into place, I just want to enjoy it. I really just want to soak it up, have a chance to spend time the guys I haven't seen, players, some of the coaches I have not seen."

There will be a packed house of former Steelers players and coaches, along with Steelers Nation, when the three are enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 7, as well as the following night when Alan Faneca and Bill Nunn go in as members of the Class of 2021.

"I think it's going to be a special weekend," said Cowher. "It will be a great way to kick off this 2021 season and certainly Saturday will be a special day as will Sunday."

Cowher will also stand on the stage with Steelers President Art Rooney II, who will serve as his presenter and help him unveil his bust. It was a choice that was easy for him because of what the Rooney family has meant to him from the day he arrived in Pittsburgh.

"I was blessed to have a guy like Dan Rooney and the whole Rooney family to be honest with you," said Cowher. "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.

"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. 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."

More from Cowher:

On Ben Roethlisberger and the criticism he has received:
"I'm sure he's just thriving now on the fact that everyone thinks he's done, or the Steelers are done. I always said one of the best things in sports is to do something that nobody believes you can do. It's one of the greatest accomplishments. I think right now Ben is thriving on that. He can't wait to get out there and is champing at the bit to prove it. I'd be very surprised if he didn't have a great year this year."

On if he misses coaching:
"I always missed strategizing. I missed the camaraderie you have with the players and coaches. I love the buildup to a game, the instantaneous result you get. You win, you lost and then you have to move onto the next game. I love that element of it. I miss the game on Sundays. I miss the practices. I don't miss the lifestyle.

"I enjoy the guys I work with. I love talking about games on Sundays. When the season is over, I now have time to do other things that you cannot do when you're coaching. It's pretty much a full-time job other than three to four weeks you get off in the summer. I have so much more balance in my life than I ever had. I don't think I've ever come close to going back."

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