No, there was no way to imagine any doubt inside that man. There was no way to picture that passion, that jaw anywhere else but on the sideline. So when he stepped down after the 2006 season, at age 49, nobody believed it would last. When he said he looked forward to "spending time with my family," pretty much everybody scoffed. It seemed like one of those typical coaching retirements that last only until the next big offer, about as long as an iPhone battery charge.
Except Cowher did say one thing at the press conference that people might have overlooked: "I don't think I'm going to miss it as much as some people think I'm going to."
Five years later he says this: "I don't miss it enough to go back."
The coach who won't coach is getting all kinds of grief in Week 10 because he has picked the Lions to beat the Bears. McManus's philosophy on pregame shows is to keep things as unscripted as possible, allowing for surprises and spontaneous outrage. Cowher had hinted in rehearsal that he'd pick the Bears because he'd gotten a weather report through his earpiece of 40-mph winds in Chicago. Now he has shifted and picked the Lions.
All around him is mock fury. Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe begins the abuse by asking Cowher about his own weather report. Esiason, the former quarterback, chimes in with a wisecrack about the Lions' passing game. Hall of Famer Dan Marino tosses in a jab of his own.
Then it happens. The jaw emerges. The face contorts. Coach Cowher erupts.
"You don't win games on earpieces!" he snaps. "You don't win games with weather reports! You win games ...
"ON THE FIELD," the guys say with him.
Everybody laughs. They love to get Coach going. They love to see that fury come out of Coach Cowher. That's what they call him on the show, incidentally. Coach. Host James Brown introduces the guys as Dan, Shannon, Boomer and Coach Cowher.
"Coach, what do you think of Tim Tebow?"