MOORE — Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Cowher conducting a clinic Wednesday night at Southmoore High School was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Moore Pirates and OKC Wolfpack.
Todd Noel, an IT project manager for the Veteran's Administration, coaches the Moore Pirates, a team of 11-year-old boys. Noel submitted a nomination to the CoachMeCowher contest.
“This is so great,” Noel said. “This is the last year these kids are together before they go to junior high. To have someone like Coach Cowher come coach our final practice is extremely special. They talked about it on CBS. Shannon Sharpe joked he'd come play running back for us.”
The Moore youth football story is scheduled to run Dec. 8 on CBS' national pregame show. Cowher is an analyst on the show alongside Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason and Sharpe. The Pirates were chosen from among nearly 200 entries.
Cowher, an advisory committee member for USA HeadsUp Football, said teaching fundamentals like how to tackle without using your head is critical in football's pursuit to minimize concussions.
“There's been a lot talk about football and safety issues,” Cowher said. “My big thing is the benefits far outweigh the risks. We're trying to give a young man life lessons — sacrifice, commitment, team work, self confidence, self esteem. That's what this sport does for kids.”
Former OU quarterback Charles Thompson is the father of Sooners quarterback Kendal Thompson, who played at Southmoore. Charles Thompson is actively involved in USA HeadsUp Football, a national program that teaches safety.
Charles Thompson was the tour guide for the Super Bowl XV-winning coach and the CBS film crew that toured Moore Wednesday afternoon. Stops included Southmoore and Moore high schools.
Southmoore football coach Jeff Brickman told the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach details of the EF5 tornado on May 20 that carved a mile-wide path in Moore. He told Cowher that 22 Southmoore players lost their homes. Brickman provided details of donations and the community's drive to rebuild.
“Six months later, this shows how much people still care about what happened here,” Brickman said. “To meet Coach Cowher is big-time. He's one of the all-timers, a Hall of Fame coach.”
Charlie Bloom, the CBS producer in charge of the project, specializes in features from the NCAA Basketball Tournament, college football and the NFL.
“This story in Moore, there is definitely something very special,” Bloom said. “When you see a community like this rally the way they have, it's a story that tells itself. I'm really excited. I hope we can portray the emotion of what's happened here. What this community has done is amazing.”
Cowher, 56, retired seven years ago after he compiled 149 wins in 15 years with the Steelers. He grew up in a small town, Crafton, Pa., and played at North Carolina State. Cowher was an undrafted linebacker who played six years in the NFL.
Cowher said Wednesday's session with 40 sixth-grade kids from the tornado ravaged community is something he's been looking forward to.
“With HeadsUp Football, our No. 1 thing is to know what to look for when dealing with concussions,” Cowher said. “Second, make sure they have proper equipment. Fitting is very, very important. Third, we need to certify coaches, make sure we have coaches that teach the correct techniques.
“Things you learn in the game of football transcend into life, being successful in life. Is there risk playing football? Yes. But there's risk in life. What this sport does for kids is immeasurable.”