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Bill Cowher Reveals 1992 Steelers’ Challenges: Nickerson Wanted Traded and WHO Wanted to Fight Greg Lloyd?

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Bill Cowher Reveals 1992 Steelers’ Challenges: Nickerson Wanted Traded and WHO Wanted to Fight Greg Lloyd?

When the Pittsburgh Steelers hired Bill Cowher to take over for the departing Chuck Noll as head coach in 1992, the first thing that would come to the minds of most fans was the surprising turnaround and success of that first season. The Steelers were coming off a pair of back-to-back disappointing seasons and it created a less than ideal situation in the locker room. But they turned it completely around, winning the AFC Central Division Title and the #1 seed in the AFC.

As the phenomenon that became known as “Cowher Power” took hold, most had no idea just how much work went into turning the Steelers into a contender. Morale was at a low and the team was fractured. The defense and offense had splintered, a result of the inability of the offense to produce an offensive touchdown in the first four games of the season under then new offensive coordinator Joe Walton.

In an attempt to unify the team, Cowher held individual meetings with the players. He found out very quickly that they had a lot of work to do.

Bill Cowher, per Heart and Steel:

“I met with one of our veteran linebackers, Hardy Nickerson, in a local restaurant to get his thoughts on the season. I was trying to build a relationship and get a good read on the situation. That meeting lasted five minutes. We didn’t even get through the appetizer. He didn’t want to talk about the Steelers; he just said flatly he didn’t want to be there anymore and would appreciate anything I could do to get him out of there.”

Hardy Nickerson would leave the Steelers following the season, as one of the leading proponents for free agency and received a 534% pay raise when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he wasn’t the only unhappy Steelers player Cowher had to deal with.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers LB Hardy Nickerson. | George Gojkovich / Getty Images

Bill Cowher, per Heart and Steel:

“I tried to set up a meeting with our starting free safety, Thomas Everett, who was one of our key players, but he obviously had no plans to report to camp. He wanted to be traded, too.”

Thomas Everett never played a down for the Bill Cowher as a Steeler as he missed the first two games of the 1992 season due his contract dispute and was eventually traded to the Dallas Cowboys. Cowher also had a vision towards a certain player that, especially with the benefit of hindsight, proved that Cowher completely missed on.

Some Steelers players made it personal

Bill Cowher, per Heart and Steel:

“We had an outside linebacker who I thought had all the skills to be terrific inside. He didn’t want to make the move, and in practice every time he’d make a mistake, he’d throw his helmet and start yelling. We finally gave up on it and moved him back. We had a lot of fights; one afternoon that linebacker who didn’t want to be with us got into it with a running back who was angry because he felt he was being underpaid.

I’ve seen a lot of fights on the field, but this was more involved than that. This was personal. They didn’t like each other and were happy to take out their frustrations on the other player. Unfortunately, these were two of the best players on the team and we were losing them. Afterward, I tried to talk with each of them in the locker room, but neither of them would look me in the eye.”

While Cowher did not explicitly name the outside linebacker or the running back in his book, one of those players spoke directly to Stan Savran from Steelers Nation Radio about his unhappiness in the proposed change of position: Greg Lloyd.

Lloyd admitted that he went home and had to be called by Tom Donahoe to come back in. Cowher then discussed how he thought about using Lloyd in the middle of the dime defense where he could be most effective, and it turned out to be a case of a learning curve for a first-year head coach and communicating with his players.

Things ended up working out pretty well for Lloyd, Cowher, and the Steelers as they went through those growing pains.

The interesting question remains, who was that unnamed running back who was unhappy with his pay and got into it with one of the toughest Steelers to ever play?

 

Who would your guess be? Click to comment below!

#SteelerNation

PMP; CSM; CSPO and host of the PMI-TB Agile Podcast. A lifelong Steelers fan, I had the chance of a lifetime when I was able to celebrate Super Bowl XLIII with the team. I love talking everything Steelers from the old days to the new and look forward to working with the team to grow this platform to be the premier Steelers site.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Jeff Shandrew

    May 17, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    Barry Foster

  2. Scott Spencer

    May 17, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    Foster was only in his 2nd year so probably not him… probably Merrill Hoge

  3. Nabeel

    May 18, 2022 at 5:26 am

    That’s a shame that Nickerson was unhappy with the Steelers. It was a blessing for the Buccaneers though because he was the foundation that turned around that franchise.

  4. Ivan Vazquez

    May 18, 2022 at 7:40 am

    Tim worley

  5. Ward Coon

    May 18, 2022 at 8:34 am

    Tim worley

  6. Fred Gray

    May 18, 2022 at 10:18 am

    Tim Worley

  7. Jon

    May 18, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    I’ll go with Worley too

  8. Walter Stryczynski

    May 18, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    Yep Worley

  9. George

    May 18, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    Tim worley

  10. StevenGeorge80

    May 19, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Either Tim Worley or Barry Foster. But my money is on That to be Tim Worley

  11. Jeff Cox

    May 19, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    Even though Foster turned out to be better in my eyes, definitely had to be Worley.

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