Steelers' Newfound Largesse
Cowher Gets A Sweet Deal
There is no prettier setting for a training camp than the Laurel Highlands in western Pennsylvania, where fans turned out in droves last weekend to sit on the hillsides of St. Vincent College and watch their beloved Steelers open camp. This year, with the team getting ready to move into a new stadium that will yield increased revenue, the hills are alive with the sound of cash registers. The Steelers, who often have lost pricey free agents to teams with deeper pockets, last week tied up two cornerbacks who would have become free agents after the season—Dewayne Washington and Chad Scott—with multiyear contracts totaling $54 million.
However, the biggest eyebrow-raiser among Pittsburgh's spate of signings involved not a player but a coach. On July 12 owner Dan Rooney gave Bill Cowher, who had two years left on his contract, a three-year extension worth an estimated $3 million a year. Cowher's extension was stunning because of its duration and dollar amount. Cowher, 44, has presided over three straight nonplayoff seasons, during which Pittsburgh has gone 22-26.
Why such a huge commitment? "We wanted to show him we love him," says Rooney. "I wasn't worried about him going anywhere. He's a good man, and he'll be our coach for a long time."