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Original Issue

Fanfare for a Common Man

Get Tagliabue onhis cell! Call an emergency meeting! File a grievance! Something so disturbingand wrong happened on Sunday at the Super Bowl that heads must roll!

A simple, humbleman became the Super Bowl XL hero.

Can't be! Aren'tSuper Bowl heroes supposed to wear $7,000 Italian suits, flash enough bling tomake Stevie Wonder's eyes hurt and have egos so big they follow in their ownEscalades? Don't they come with a wife, a girlfriend and a posse? The closestthis bumpkin has ever been to a posse is Bonanza.

Take a good lookat this guy--Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher. He's got the nose of anearsighted boxer, rock-pile teeth and a mustache stolen from the VillagePeople. For Super Bowl week he wore flood-ready khakis, logoless tennis shoesand what looked like a $40 watch. "On TV we've seen what he's beenwearing," said his 18-year-old daughter, Lauren, who, like the rest of thefamily, didn't get to Detroit until game day. "And we're like, That's'cause none of us are there!"

It's not just hiswardrobe that's straight out of Mayberry. It's his integrity, too. Cowher, 48,won't do ads, books or billboards. Doesn't want the attention. Won't move intoa fancier house. Won't miss watching Lauren and her 14-year-old sister,Lindsay, play high school basketball, just as he regularly watched Meagan, whonow stars for Princeton.

Madison Avenuemust be reaching for their Tums. We have to make a star out of this clunk?

But like it ornot, after 14 years of trying, Cowher has finally slain his Super Bowl beast,beating the Seattle Microchips 21-10 at Ford Field. He led a team with asecond-year quarterback and an overweight running back to eight straightvictories--the last four on the road in the playoffs--winning the Super Bowl asa sixth seed, the equivalent of cutting the Hope diamond with a spork.

Here was hismoment at the 50-yard line, the dessert cart rolled out just for him. Hegrabbed his three daughters and his wife, Kaye, right there, with a minutestill left on the clock. He'd waited 14 years; he wasn't waiting anymore. Andin the greatest huddle of his life he screamed, "I just want you to knowthat you four mean more to me than anything in the world! And at the count ofthree we're all going to do a giant high five!"

And they did.

And that's whenthe big galoot cried like the mother of the bride.

Well, you mighthave too, if on the way to your desk every workday for a decade and a halfyou'd walked past four Lombardi trophies that somebody else had won. And howwould you like to have lost four AFC Championship Games at home and one SuperBowl, setting the record for Most Times, Chin Kept Up?

And that's why,when Cowher finally snagged the Big One on Sunday, it was an utter befuddlementto him. No coach in history has had as many regular-season victories (143)without winning a Super Bowl. He'd always dressed for blizzards. What was hesupposed to do at the beach?

After an hour ofgiving credit to everybody but himself, he finally found himself almost alonein the coaches' locker room. He got butt-naked for a shower, changed his mind,sat down on a folding chair, lit up a very fat cigar and stuck it in the middleof a smile that you could've seen from Pluto.

Fess up: Wouldyou have been complete without a Super Bowl win?

"To behonest, all those championship-game losses hurt me so bad, I stopped thinkingabout titles," he puffed. "I just refused to think about achampionship. I learned to think about the game and nothing else. Nothing aboutwhat it meant. I just always prepared myself for the worst. I never let myselfthink about what it'd be like to win a Super Bowl. I didn't want to be hurtagain."

Sorry, Bubba,you're stuck with it, and good luck finding somebody in the league who's nothappy for you.

"Everybodytalked all week about how we were trying to win this for Jerome [Bettis],"said linebacker Joey Porter. "That's true. But we wanted this just as muchfor Coach.... To finally win it all, that erases all the doubt about thisman."

Cowher wasn'tgoing to get cocky. "Tomorrow night I'm back to being an assistantcoach," he admitted. "My four women tell me what to do, and I doit." He was scheduled to sit in yet another drafty high school gym the verynext night, watching his daughters play basketball, parade or no parade.

"It'll begreat to have him home," said Lauren. "We can dress him again."

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Cowher led his team to four road wins in the playoffs,winning the Super Bowl as a sixth seed, the equivalent of cutting the Hopediamond with a spork.