My Condolences to Kaye Cowher: Fans Only See What's Skin Deep

Gene ZarnickCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2010

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 11:  Former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher attends the game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils on February 11, 2009 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin Cox/Getty Images

The news of Kaye Cowher’s death caught me off guard yesterday.


I woke up just thinking I was checking the score updates from the night before and what I saw was that the wife of Bill Cowher had lost her battle with cancer at the age of 54.


My mood changed about six times in the next six minutes.


At first it was the feeling of disbelief.


Not because she had died, but because I never even knew she had cancer.  Then again, this was a woman who as a Steelers fan growing up I never really saw.  It was only during the Super Bowl Championship that we really got to see her and Bill together.


The next feeling was sympathy.


I think many of us have dealt with someone who has battled with cancer or seen a loved one who has passed away from a disease and just recognizing and relating to the situation that the family and loved ones are in brings out a heartfelt feeling.


I then had a sense of tranquility pass over me.


Every situation like this is hard for everyone, but I’m always a person who likes to look at the positives when it seems like there are none there. 


Even not knowing Kaye Cowher for more than being Coach Cowher’s wife, I still know that her passing means that she is no longer suffering.  Her tranquility from no longer having to fight gave me the same feeling in understanding that good can come out of saddening situations.


Cherish came next as I started to read about how such high regard Bill praised Kaye.


From the statements he made upon the unfortunate news to the past statements he made that involved his wife; all were of the utmost praise and the love that he had for her and the importance she had amongst the Cowher family was easily viewable just from the few words that I read.  It definitely made me think and appreciate all the family and friends I have around me.


Lastly, and most importantly, I felt repentance.


In one way the feeling was directed towards Bill.  Upon his retirement in 2006 there were so many questions and negative reactions to his decision.  Fans were bewildered how he could walk away from what we consider the greatest organization in all of sports after only one season out from winning a Super Bowl Championship.


We understood he wanted to spend time with his family, but all we heard was that he wanted to watch his daughters play basketball; there was nothing about his wife at the time.


Steelers’ fans respected him, but a lot of the love was lost.  Derogatory statements about him were thrown around and everything he had done for the organization was summed up by most people saying that he only won one Super Bowl and he wasn’t that great anyways.  I guess many fans just tried to justify the departure.


Things got even worse when he rang the bell at the Pittsburgh Penguins/Carolina Hurricanes game in 2009.  Cries of treason rang out amongst Steeler Nation just for clanging a bell before the playoff hockey game.  The backstab feeling would’ve been considered on equal footing as the LeBron James “Decision” was for Cleveland fans.


Once all those thoughts crossed my mind I finally felt remorse for Kaye Cowher. 


Not for her death, not for her battle with cancer, but for the fact that she had to hear all these negative remarks directed towards her husband.  Here it is a woman who is already dealing with the worst situation in her life and then she has to feel some sort of guilt for the treatment that her husband receives from fans because we don’t know the full story.


I can’t imagine how this weighed on her.  Still Bill never said anything, he stuck by her side and he took everything that came his way.


The problem with the world today is that we get information so quick, that we are so prone to react.  There’s no finding out the true story because we expect everything to be included in the initial report.  We don’t take the time to stop and look at the whole picture because if we do then we might just miss the next story that passes by us.


Steelers’ fans didn’t see the skin cancer; they only saw the story that was skin deep.  


They saw a coach who was still in his prime with one of the NFL’s greatest franchises in one of America’s greatest football cities and he left; too early for our liking.


So now after the saddening news we can try and defend our actions by saying we didn’t know.  The real sad part is that we never tried to know.