Saturday, July 24, 2010

The story behind how Bill Cowher met his wife

Kaye Cowher died Friday from skin cancer, and I can’t tell you how deeply sad that makes me feel. I remember being in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s as a reporter for The News and Observer and interviewing Cowher about how they met.

Because I had come all the way from Raleigh to see him, he actually came into the press room to talk to me – NFL coaches rarely do that, by the way – and as we talked you could tell the entire press corps was listening.

Kaye and her twin sister Faye played basketball at State, and Cowher was a star linebacker at the time. One night he was at Edward’s Grocery – then a raucous bar on Hillsborough St. – and he met Kaye. He got her number but the next morning he had a problem – he couldn’t remember if he’d met Faye or Kaye.

So he got an idea. He called the number and, fortunately, the roommate answered. He said in a loud voice, “Is Aye there?”

Who, the person on the phone asked.

“You know, the basketball player,” Cowher said.

The roommate yelled out, “Kaye! Phone’s for you!’” and Cowher had his answer.

They raised three children, had incredible success together in the NFL, and returned to Raleigh at the height of his fame to have more family time together. She was one of us, and she was cool.

Kaye Cowher was 54.


  1. Excellent, heartfelt post, Dane. The family really kept this information quiet. I was stunned to read about this. Such a sad story. They finally had time to spend together and...

  2. That's a sad situation and reminds us all to check ourselves and get checked by a doctor. Most skin cancers are treatable. I'm assuming Kaye Cowher had melanoma, the least treatable. My family has been affected by skin cancers, which fortunately have been able to be removed before it got too late.
    From the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta: "Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer — basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas — are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous, especially among young people. About 65%–90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light."