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The Hall of Fame broke tradition to tell Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson they’re in. It was great

This is way better than someone knocking on a hotel door to tell someone they’re a Hall of Famer.

David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher CBS

There’s an odd tradition for those hoping to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Finalists gather in hotel rooms and wait for a knock on the door from Hall of Fame president David Baker to inform them they’re getting a bust in Canton.

That’s what made Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson learning about their inductions so much better than usual.

Cowher learned of his Hall of Fame induction first

The former Steelers coach was breaking down a playoff game between the Ravens and Titans during a CBS pregame show when he was surprised by Baker. The Hall of Fame exec didn’t even need to say a word. Cowher knew right away why Baker was there.

The unexpected news made for a great moment of television:

Cowher had a brief career as a linebacker for the Browns and Eagles before joining the coaching ranks. By age 34, he was named head coach of the Steelers. In his fourth season, he became the then-youngest coach ever in a Super Bowl. Cowher stepped down after 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, where he compiled a 149-90-1 regular season record and won a Super Bowl.

His inclusion in the Hall of Fame isn’t too surprising, especially when there will be a 20-person class in honor of the Hall’s 100th anniversary. He was one of eight coaches named a finalist with two to be selected. But the break from the usual knock on the door tradition was a fun way to make the moment feel even more special.

Cowher’s wife and daughter celebrated the news, as did his CBS on-air coworkers.

There were even shirts made for the occasion:

A day later we got an even more touching moment

Jimmy Johnson got the same surprise a day later

It was just as great when Johnson got the surprise visit from Baker during halftime of a game between the Packers and Seahawks.

Johnson came to the NFL after winning a national championship at the University of Miami in 1987. He was scooped up by the Cowboys and won two Super Bowls in his five seasons in Dallas. Turmoil between Johnson and team owner Jerry Jones eventually led to a divorce, and Johnson was named the head coach of the Dolphins three seasons later.

Altogether, he compiled an 80-64 record in nine NFL seasons with six trips to the postseason and nine playoff wins.

Like Cowher, the celebration for Johnson continued after the cameras were switched off.

The entire “Centennial Slate” — 10 senior nominees, three contributors, and two coaches — has already been decided. Hopefully, the Hall of Fame keeps hunting for more ways to reveal those inductees with a bit of flair.