Six seasons have passed since Bill Cowher walked away from the Steelers, and 2013 likely will make it seven. But the CBS analyst and former coach said Tuesday that he probably will return to the NFL -- eventually.
"It would be a challenge," he said of the layoff since he last coached, "but I think that's probably why I would get back into it, because of the challenge."
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So he does plan to go back at some point? "Yeah," he said.
The question, of course, is when. Has Cowher been tempted by any of the current NFL openings, or heard from any of the teams who have them?
"No, no, no, no," he said at an event to promote CBS' coverage of Super Bowl XLVII. "Hey, we have the Super Bowl. All these coaches are trying to get there. I know I'm going to be there."
Cowher would be a hot commodity any time he signaled a willingness to return. When he is ready, he is convinced the layoff will be a "nonissue.''
"I did it for 27 years,'' he said. "You don't just forget things overnight. One thing about this job is it's been really good because it allows me to study the game and do features on the game . . . It's not like I'm out of it. I know how the game is changing.''
But Cowher believes Sanchez is salvageable in 2013. "You don't just become a bad quarterback,'' he said. "He's young. You look at their situation and compare this team to the one that went to the championship [games].''
Cowher noted everything from a lack of skill position players to problems on the line to the failure of Tony Sparano's system to click to Sanchez's "fragile" confidence to, of course, the backup quarterback.
"You bring in Tim Tebow and create this whole circus kind of atmosphere,'' Cowher said. "I mean, as everyone has talked about, that thing was doomed from Day One. They never really had a chance to succeed.''