PITTSBURGH -- Bill Cowher has a message for Pittsburgh Steelers fans who think their team was cheated out of a trip to the Super Bowl 10 years ago: Get over it.
The Steelers were drummed by New England, 41-27, in the 2004 AFC Championship Game at Heinz field, a loss that came under suspicion a couple of years later when the Patriots were caught trying to steal signals and formations by illegally videotaping opposing teams.
“We didn’t lose the game because of any 'Spygate,' because of them having any additional things,” Cowher told 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday. “[If] they’re guilty of anything they’re guilty of arrogance because they were told not to do something but it was something everybody does. They got caught doing it with a camera.”
Cowher, who coached the Steelers from 1992-2006, said what the Patriots did happened regularly in the NFL before the league allowed coordinators to relay plays to their quarterback and defensive signal-caller via a helmet radio.
“Stealing someone’s signals was a part of the game and everybody attempted to do that. We had people that always tried to steal signals,” said Cowher, whose 2004 team won 16 consecutive games before losing to the Patriots in the AFC title game. “What happened when we lost that game is they outplayed us. It had nothing to do with stealing signals or cheating or anything else.”
Cowher, an NFL studio analyst for CBS, interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick last week, and he said the two talked extensively afterward, the first time they had done so since they were both NFL assistant coaches.
Cowher professed his admiration for Belichick and the sustained success he has enjoyed in the salary-cap era.
The Pittsburgh native also made it clear on Wednesday that he won’t be matching wits against Belichick -- or any other NFL head coach -- anytime soon.
Cowher reiterated that he has “no interest” in returning to the sideline even though his name has been linked to head-coaching vacancies every year since he retired from the Steelers in January 2007.
Cowher, who went 149-90-1 and won a Super Bowl in 15 seasons with the Steelers, acknowledged that he has received his share of inquiries about returning to coaching.
“It’s flattering but it never gets very far,” Cowher said. “If I ever want to get back into coaching I should be calling teams they shouldn’t be calling me. That’s when you know you really want to do it.”