Bill Cowher and Brett Favre have one thing in common: Every December features their names in the headlines speculating on the same thing that didn't happen the year before.
Ever since Cowher departed the Pittsburgh Steelers to spend more time with his family, every December starts the same old juggernaut of headlines that sit right next to Favre's on the sports page.
Will Cowher coach Team X?
Will Favre finally retire?
Does anyone really care anymore?
From a big picture perspective, both stories have reached the point of background noise. They've been there, floating in the ether for so long that you don't even raise your head anymore when the subject gets raised.
Cowher now has been linked to three teams for 2011 as a possible head coach. The main issue here is that the three teams, the Giants, Dolphins and Texans, all currently have head coaches working for the organization.
So you have Cowher linked to three jobs that technically aren't open.
With the amount of unemployment in America right now, we should all be so lucky to be linked to at least one job that's actually open.
So where is all this speculation coming from?
The only logical answer to this question is that it's coming from Cowher himself, or at least from his camp. You have to believe the reason those three teams were mentioned in all the news reports is that Cowher is testing the waters to see who responds.
Cowher has said he's ready to return to the sidelines next year, and to be completely fair, that's the first time he's said that since he retired. He entertained Randy Lerner and the Cleveland Browns two years ago, but said he did that out of respect, turning the job down before Lerner could even begin to make offers.
Cowher did the same for the Jets that year, but that never stopped the speculation. Cowher has been silent on all the job speculation this year so far and hasn't done anything to deny any of the reports coming out about jobs that aren't actually open.
There's no doubt Cowher wants a big paycheck for returning to the sidelines—a big raise was rumored to be one of the reasons he left Pittsburgh because the Rooney family wasn't interested in paying a head coach $9 or $10 million a year.
But New York might. The Dolphins might. Even the Texans might.
Cowher has remained on television during his coaching hiatus, and by doing so he keeps himself in the public consciousness. By leaking stories and then doing nothing to deny them, though, he puts himself on the same level as the latter day Favre.
Both men appear to have a pathological need to remain in the headlines, and while they'll claim the headlines write themselves without any personal involvement, you just can't sustain stories like these year after year without some kind of personal involvement.
If you deny and then go away, the stories die. The fact the stories haven't died are proof that the public denials are quickly themselves denied through other people once the cameras are gone to give themselves plausible deniability.
While that may sound far-fetched, the reality is what it is.
It's ironic that Favre's retirement story might actually come to a close after the last four or five years, because it also looks like the Cowher return story also might finally write its final paragraph.