Sources: Falcons gauge Cowher's interest, but he intends to take '08 off


Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has told the Atlanta Falcons he intends to sit out another year of coaching and will not consider the team's vacant head coach position.

Cowher was contacted by the Falcons after Bobby Petrino resigned as coach last week, league and team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. It was an exploratory contact, not an offer for the Atlanta job, the sources said.

Cowher told Falcons officials he is committed to a two-year sabbatical as he works as an NFL studio analyst for CBS. Bill Parcells, currently working as an ESPN analyst, also has reaffirmed that he will not coach again.

Petrino abruptly resigned as Falcons coach on Tuesday and, hours later, made official his return to the college ranks with his introduction by the University of Arkansas as its new coach.

Longtime Falcons assistant coach and former player Emmitt Thomas, who has been the team's secondary coach since 2002, has been named interim head coach for the final three games of the season.

Falcons owner Arthur
Blank said Wednesday he felt betrayed by Petrino's
shocking decision to resign midseason. Petrino's departure came the day after
the Falcons lost to the Saints and quarterback
Michael Vick was sentenced in federal court to 23 months in
prison for taking part in an illegal dogfighting ring.

"I do feel a sense of betrayal, a sense of trust lost that
just was not right given the circumstances," Blank said. "This year was a perfect storm for us in a negative way but
we will get through that and we will move forward."

Petrino was in his first season as coach and Blank said he
did not blame him for a string of poor results that had left the
Falcons at the bottom of the NFC South division.

Atlanta fell to 3-11 Sunday after a 37-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.