MIAMI — For the past decade or so, the thought was Mike Shanahan would have to win a Super Bowl without John Elway to prove he’s a Hall of Fame coach.
Then Bill Cowher was granted football coaching immortality last month and suddenly Shanahan became more than qualified to one day have his bust bronzed in Canton, Ohio.
Cowher had 149 wins and was 1-1 in Super Bowls during his 15 years as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach.
Shanahan has 170 wins in 20 years – 138 in 14 seasons with the Broncos – and was 2-0 in Super Bowls, going back-to-back with Elway and Terrell Davis in 1997-98.
“Mike Shanahan belongs in the Hall of Fame,’’ Cowher said last Saturday while walking the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors show. “I’ve said if there’s two people I had a hard time – the two toughest coaches I had the hardest time to prepare against, Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan.”
“Because you could never predict what he was going to call,’’ Cowher said. “He could open up the game with four straight passes, four straight runs. One time he opened up the game with four straight screens. So you never knew what to do. It was the package of the week, it was the philosophy of the week. He made you stay on your toes when you were trying to game plan against him.”
Jimmy Johnson, who joined Cowher in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class of 2020, had 80 wins and two Super Bowls.
Lined up next to Cowher and Johnson, Shanahan looks bronze-worthy.
Plus, Shanahan went to four other Super Bowls as a top offensive assistant. And as head coach he personally developed several assistants who went on to become successful NFL head coaches, namely Gary Kubiak, Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur and son Kyle Shanahan.
The Shanahan coaching tree should put Shanny over the threshold.
Former Broncos coach Dan Reeves is also Hall of Fame worthy for leading two teams into 4 total Super Bowls but his comparable coaches – Bud Grant, 92 and Marv Levy, 94 – didn’t walk the red carpet last week.
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