Cowher joins two other coaches, Bill Parcells and Marty Schottenheimer, on the list of new candidates. Some of the former players included on the list for the first time are running back Tiki Barber, quarterback Drew Bledsoe and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
Cowher played linebacker at NC State, lettering all four years and serving as a team captain his senior year. Cowher led the Wolfpack in tackles his junior and senior years.
Cowher was featured in a 1994 cover story in the NC State alumni magazine. By then, Cowher had achieved success as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he was quoted in the article talking about his days playing for the Wolfpack:
"I was an emotional guy," he said. "And when game day rolled around, it was always business, I was in a different state of mind. I could really get into it."
The complete list of nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012 has 103 candidates. That list will be pared down over the next few months to a list of 15 modern-era finalists in January.