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Football Hall of Fame Honors Wolfpack’s Cowher

Alumnus Bill Cowher, a former NC State linebacker, is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in honor of his outstanding coaching career — a first for the Wolfpack.

Headshot of Bill Cowher on the sidelines of a game with text that reads Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Cowher.

Tears rolling into his trademark mustache and dripping off his famous square jaw, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and NC State linebacker Bill Cowher became the first Wolfpack player to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in ceremonies during the first weekend of August.

Selected for his successful career as a coach, Cowher twice led his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers to the NFL’s Super Bowl, winning the title in 2006 with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Introduced by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II — close cousin of the late NC State quarterback Artie Rooney — Cowher thanked friends and family, players and coaches, and both the Pittsburgh Steelers organization where he was head coach for 15 years and the CBS television network where he has served as an analyst for 15 years for a successful career in professional football.

The 64-year-old native of Crafton, Pennsylvania, was surrounded by more than two dozen former Wolfpack teammates and coaches who attended the four-day enshrinement weekend. Among them were his linebacker coach, former NC State head coach Chuck Amato, and the other half of the feared linebacker tandem of the late 1970s, Kyle Wescoe.

Other teammates, including Outland Trophy winner Jim Ritcher and former Senior Associate Athletics Director David Horning and wide receiver Mike Quick, gathered in Ohio for public and private events to help celebrate the landmark achievement for the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Steelers.

“To my friends,” Cowher said in his speech, “that’s what it is all about, surrounding yourself with good people. Thank you for your unconditional friendship.”

Cowher, a 1979 NC State graduate with a degree in education, was selected to be part of the Centennial Slate for the Class of 2020, though actual enshrinement was COVID delayed until this year for the enshrinement of the 15-member 2020 class and for the nine-member 2021 class.

Cowher celebrating a Super Bowl victory on the field.
Bill Cowher led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in 2006.

Among the many he mentioned in his speech, Cowher paid a poignant tribute to his late wife Kaye Young Cowher, a former Wolfpack women’s basketball player under head coach Kay Yow who died of skin cancer in 2010.

Cowher played one year for College Football Hall of Famer Lou Holtz and three years for the late head coach Bo Rein, then spent four years as an NFL special teams player, two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

He was hired as a defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989 and was named the head coach of the Steelers in 1992, taking the storied franchise back to the Super Bowl just three seasons later.

In his 15 years as a head coach, he compiled a 149-90-1 record, taking the Steelers to eight division titles, 10 playoff appearances and 21 playoff games, including the two trips to professional sport’s biggest event.