PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher signed a two-year contract extension on Monday that runs through 2007 the second time since
2001 he has agreed to a new deal after his team missed the playoffs the preceding season. Cowher agreed to his current contract, which runs through
the 2005 season, after the Steelers rebounded from consecutive losing seasons by going 9-7 in 2000 but still missed the playoffs.
The 47-year-old Cowher has a 115-76-1 record in 12 seasons, with only three losing seasons, and his seven division titles are the fifth most in NFL
coaching history. His teams have reached the playoffs eight times in 12 years despite missing them four of the last six seasons.
"I can't think of a better job," said Cowher, a Pittsburgh native. "To me, it's not about the market or the money, to me it's about winning. ... I
never could have imagined coaching another team."
The Steelers have played in the Super Bowl once and appeared in four AFC title games under Cowher, but the franchise has not won an NFL title since
the fourth and last of their Super Bowl wins under former coach Chuck Noll during the 1979 season.
"He's at the point where he's made enough money, he's raising his family, he's been successful, and there's only one thing left to do and we feel he
can do it here, and that's win a championship," team president Art Rooney II said. "That's what it comes down to: Do you believe your coach can win a
championship for you?"
Cowher called not winning the Super Bowl "the void" in his career he is trying to fill.
"It's about doing what I was brought here to do 12 years ago, for one of the classiest owners in the league (Dan Rooney), if not the classiest owner
in league, and that's what drives me and will continue to drive me," Cowher said.
Cowher has traditionally signed extensions with two years remaining on his contract, and did do again this year. The Steelers begin training camp
Friday, and both sides sought to get a deal done before then to avoid distractions. The team traditionally has not negotiated contracts once a season
begins. Cowher's current deal pays him $3 million per season, and Rooney II said he was given a raise in his new contract. Cowher has the most
seniority of any active NFL coach, and only eight coaches have coached one team longer than Cowher has _ including Chuck Noll, his predecessor, who
coached the Steelers from 1969-1991. Cowher's 122 career victories, counting postseason wins, are second in team history to Noll's 209.
"We have a system where the players come and go, and the best way to deal with that is have coaching stability," team president Art Rooney II said.
"We think their record has proven that's a pretty good way to go about it."
While the Steelers change coaches less frequently than any other team in major pro sports they have had only two coaches in 35 years Cowher goes into
this season following yet another realignment of his coaching staff. The Steelers fired defensive coordinator Tim Lewis after last season and brought
back Dick LeBeau, who previously held the job in the mid 1990s. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey also left to become the Buffalo Bills' coach and
was replaced by Ken Whisenhunt, formerly an offensive assistant. Offensive line coach Russ Grimm also added the title of assistant head coach.