Steelers' Cowher looks to avoid Noll's shadow New coach promises to make an impact

January 22, 1992

As he walked past the four Super Bowl trophies that glisten under a spotlight just outside his office, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher decided something was missing.

A fifth trophy.

Call it the confidence of youth, but Cowher obviously isn't intimidated about replacing Chuck Noll, who won more games than all but four coaches in NFL history.

Cowher, who signed a four-year contract yesterday, is the NFL's second-youngest head coach at age 34 (the Cincinnati Bengals' David Shula is 32) and is only the second Steelers coach in the past quarter-century. Just seven years after ending his playing career, he returns to his hometown to replace a future Hall of Famer.

The pressure is enormous and the comparisons to Noll are inevitable, but Cowher doesn't seem scared by his own lack of head coaching experience. Or by the task of replacing the only coach to win four Super Bowls.

"Chuck Noll is a legend, and it would be a mistake to ignore that success," said Cowher, Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator for three years. "It's something we won't try to put behind us, but will try to build on. My goal is to put a fifth trophy out there."

Since winning their fourth Super Bowl in January 1980, the Steelers have been a less-than-.500 team with just four playoff appearances in 12 years. They've been to the playoffs once in the past seven years. They were 7-9 last season.

Cowher said replacing Noll will become a big deal only if he allows it to.

"Chuck Noll was Chuck Noll. . . . Bill Cowher is going to be Bill Cowher," he said. "I'm going to be me. I've prepared myself to handle adversity, and I've prepared myself to handle success."

* BRONCOS: Mike Shanahan is out as offensive coordinator in an apparent power struggle with head coach Dan Reeves.

Reeves said his relationship with Shanahan had become unworkable. Toward the end of the 1991 season, Reeves and Shanahan rarely spoke, according to a player speaking on the condition he not be identified.

Shanahan, 39, former Los Angeles Raiders head coach, was in his second stint as Broncos offensive coordinator. He first came to Denver in 1984 as wide receivers coach and was offensive coordinator from 1985-87, helping the Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

He was hired as head coach of the Raiders in 1988 but was fired four games into the following season after an 8-12 record. He returned to the Broncos in 1990.

* BROWNS: The team and former coach Bud Carson reportedly have reached a $200,000 a settlement. The Akron-Beacon Journal reported that unidentified sources said the Browns have agreed to honor what was to have been the final year of Carson's contract.

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