Sports

Bobby Bowden has pancreatic cancer, son says

Terry Bowden, son of Hall of Fame college football coach Bobby Bowden, said Thursday his father is suffering from pancreatic cancer and is “doing as good as expected” given the family’s recent announcement that his condition is terminal.

“The news came out [Wednesday], but we’ve known for about 10 days,” the University of Louisiana at Monroe head coach told reporters at Sun Belt media day in New Orleans on Thursday. We’ve been preparing for this. We know when you have pancreatic cancer, which is what the disease is, you’re probably talking months, not years, so we know that. We just think we’ve got some more good days ahead, and we’re going to enjoy those together.

“I would plead that all people would respect the fact he needs to rest when he’s up,” Terry Bowden added. “He doesn’t need a lot of phone calls, or a lot of people talking on the phone. You know my dad; he has never turned down an interview in his life. He’ll be on his deathbed [doing] an interview the last minute he does it. But, that’s Bobby Bowden.”

The elder Bowden, who coached Florida State for 34 seasons before retiring in 2009, released a statement Wednesday through the school indicating he had been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition.

“I’ve always tried to serve God’s purpose for my life, on and off the field, and I am prepared for what is to come,” Bowden said in a statement. “My wife Ann and our family have been life’s greatest blessing. I am at peace.”

Bowden, 91, is the second-winningest coach in Division I history with 357 victories. His teams won national championships in 1993 and 1999.

Current Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell opened up Thursday’s session at ACC media days by paying tribute to Bowden.

“Because of the impact that he has made, because of the man that he is, the coach that forever changed a university and a place, [he’s] just a tremendous example,” said Norvell, who is entering his second season with the Seminoles. “I am so grateful for the opportunity and the relationship that I have and been able to form with Coach Bowden. … As he’s resting there at home, just to know we are thinking about you and just so grateful for the impact you’ve made and that you continue to make by who you are.”

Bowden dealt with a “tough” bout of COVID-19 in October, which came a few days after he returned to his Tallahassee home after a lengthy hospital stay for an infection in his leg. He was also hospitalized for five days in late June and told the Tallahassee Democrat earlier this month, “I feel fine, but I can’t do much.”

Bowden served as West Virginia coach from 1970 to 1975 before taking the Florida State job in 1976. He built the Seminoles into a national power, winning 12 ACC championships and national titles in 1993 and 1999. Bowden was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

“Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised the national profile of Florida State University, and he did it with dignity, class and a sense of humor,” university president John Thrasher said in a statement. “Although his accomplishments on the field are unmatched, his legacy will go far beyond football. His faith and family have always come first, and he is an incredible role model for his players and fans alike. He is beloved by the FSU family.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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