"Coach, what is going on with those Texans?"
"Coach, can that New England defense stop anybody?"
And Cowher is flying high, answering those questions, trading barbs, making points. "He just loves football," Brown says. "That pours out of him. He studies so hard for these shows."
McManus: "He has the rare ability to take us inside football without using a lot of confusing terminology. He really loves doing this, and it shows on camera."
Even these guys, though, can't help but wonder how long Cowher will stay out of coaching. Brown talks about how the right opportunity—a stable organization with a good general manager and the chance to win right away—could lure Cowher back. McManus talks about how his heart skips a beat every time he hears a rumor about Cowher leaving, and these rumors pop up once or twice every day. But McManus says, "I know that if he does decide to go, I will hear about it from him, not read it in the newspaper."
Cowher agrees. "Sean knows I'm completely loyal to him and CBS," he says. "I have so much respect for him. I would always come to CBS first. But I'm telling you, I'm not going back to coaching."
Read that last comment again. You know the quote didn't end there, right? The coach who won't coach is too smart, too honest, too practical to leave it there. So he continues: "I mean, maybe someday I'll feel different."
And there you go. If you are a football fan anywhere in America with a lousy team, you already find yourself clinging to those last words, don't you? When is someday? Will someday be in time to turn around the Eagles? The Dolphins? The Browns? Is someday close enough to bring healing to Penn State? When is someday, Coach Cowher?
"Don't make too much of that," he says.
It has to be the jaw, right? People can't help but place that jaw on a football sideline. This fall, when the rumors began to crop up, Cowher said on the air, "I do not plan on coaching next year." For anyone else this might be taken to mean that he does not plan on coaching next year. But because he's Bill Cowher, and because he's so good at coaching, and because he seemed to love it so much, and because of that jaw, the word plan was broken apart and put back together until it actually sounded as if he might coach next year, he just isn't planning it right now. "It's flattering," Cowher says, "but I just don't think people know me very well. I'm a simple guy, but my life was always more than coaching football."