Friday, August 14, 2009

The Terrible Towel: It's a 'burgh Thing

Well, last night marked the official start of what we here in Pittsburgh consider the third most holy season of the year behind Easter and Christmas: Steeler football season. The Arizona Cardinals fell to Pittsburgh last night 20-10.

One of the most recognized symbols of the franchise is The Terrible Towel. Originally an idea from the late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope, it has come to represent the team, the city, and the fans. The Towel has been to the top of Mount Everest and has been seen on Saturday Night Live. Fans take them on vacation around the globe, and one was even sent to the International Space Station.

The Terrible Towel made its debut on December 27, 1975, in a playoff game against the Baltimore Colts. Cope scanned the stands to see how well his idea might pan out. Less than a dozen were spotted. Myron later recalled the event. "Nearing kickoff, the Steelers gathered in their tunnel for introductions, whereupon the crowd exploded—and suddenly, by my estimation, 30,000 Terrible Towels twirled from the fists of fans around the stadium!" Baltimore went on to lose 28-10. The Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys lost in following weeks, giving Pittsburgh their second Super Bowl trophy.

Myron retired from the booth in 2005 after 35 years, the longest tenure with a single team for any broadcaster in NFL history. He was made an honorary captain in a Monday night game against the Baltimore Ravens and led the fans in a towel wave at halftime. That towel is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

In a game against Cleveland in 1994, Steelers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner accidentally dropped his towel, and Cleveland running back Earnest Byner stepped on it while yelling, "We don't care about your towel. We're going to beat you this time." Cleveland lost 29-9.

December 4, 2005. Cincinnati Bengals player T. J. Houshmandzadeh wiped his feet with the towel after scoring a touchdown. The Steelers lost by seven points during that game but beat Cincy 31-17 in the playoffs on their way to winning Super Bowl XL.

Last year, before the September 29 game at Heinz Field, Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason stomped on the Towel. Baltimore lost all their regular season games and the AFC Championship to Pittsburgh.

On December 21, 2008, LenDale White and Keith Bulluck of the Tennessee Titans stomped on the Terrible Towel after winning 31-14 over the Steelers. Tennessee was eliminated during divisional playoffs despite being the top seed and favorite to win the Vince Lombardi trophy.

When Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon blew and wiped his nose with a Terrible Towel on a pre-sendoff rally for the Arizona Cardinals, he then handed the Towel to Big Red, the Cardinals' mascot. Big Red wiped his armpits with it. Arizona lost Super Bowl XLIII 27-23. [Author note: I think that was the best played Super Bowls I've ever seen.]

Whether you love the Steelers or hate them, I'm asking all of you to purchase one Terrible Towel. All of the proceeds from the sale of the Towel goes directly to the Allegheny Valley School, a school for the handicapped. Myron's autistic son was a resident of the school for many years, and sales of The Terrible Towel have raised over $2 million dollars for the AVS. What you do with it is your choice, but I'd really like to see the school continue to help those with special needs.

While it does seem somewhat coincidental that those who have desecrated the Towel have lost the majority of the time, it is a symbol that unites The Steeler Nation worldwide.


Amusing Bunni said...

Hi Sweetie! That was an interesting lesson of the terrible towel...I had heard of it, but I didn't know why it was terrible.

I hope your Steelers do very well this season, and also that every team in the NFL beat the jerks that hired that dog murderer mike vick. Why they let him back in, I'll never know....sorry they have to be playing in your state. If the Bears had hired him, I'd be boycotting them for life.

GO STEELERS (and Bears...heehee.)

blackandgoldfan said...

Hey bunni!!! The towel is only terrible to the opposing teams. It started off as a marketing gimmick and is still going strong almost 35 years later.

I'm with you on the Vick thing. I watched a show called "Dogtown" on Nat'l Geographic Channel, and they took in a large majority of the Vick dogs. OMG!! I don't have a weak stomach, but I felt nauseous to see those dogs when they came in to the rehab center.

I don't know if I could boycott my boys. I've been a fan for about 35 years or so, and it would kill me.

Good luck to da Bears! They're long overdue for a good season.

Sue said...

UNFORTUNATELY, TJ is no longer with us...

blackandgoldfan said...

Sue: I hope Cincy has a better season this year. Yinz had a real stinker last year! Thanks for reading!

LandShark 5150 said...

It is very hard for me to accept the "t-towel" being from the d/fw metromess and a cowboy fan. Saw me first game in the old cotton bowl, saw the first and last games at the stadium in Irving. Hated the Steelers almost as bad as the Eagles and Skins. The older I have got the more respect I have for that 70's team that beat the boys. Mostly because I married into a group of Cowboy hating Steeler loving Texans, the damn traitors. I love to tease them with all the autographs and pics I have with T Bradshaw, my wife's heart throb. He lived around the corner from us and we visited often. He by far #2 on the all-time best list only after Johnny U. of Balt. history. Yep , I can say it now, but I will never admit it to me inlaws or the wifey-poo. So you best keep that secret between us. They still think I wiped my back side with the autographed T-towel and then burned it (still locked away in me gun safe). Sharky

blackandgoldfan said...

Sharky: Secret safe, pal. My brother is a HUGE Cryboys fan (sorry; couldn't resist). I think he was adopted.

The teams of the 70's were awesome. I have all six SB wins on DVD, and I made my 21-year-old watch the first Dallas/Pittsburgh match up with me. He was so impressed with the level of playing. Now it's about egos and money. Back then, it was all about love of the game.

Dr. Dave said...

I have two hanging in my basement. Both are about 13 or 14 years old. My boy now has one and waves it during games. We have directv only because they sell NFL Sunday Ticket; otherwise, I'd be in a Steelers bar on Sundays.

BTW: Wednesday looks like our day for St. Vincent's, weather permitting.

blackandgoldfan said...

Keep me updated. Twitter me a direct msg. I don't get email on my cell, but I do twitter! They're saying tstorms in the afternoon, but who knows. Maybe that would cut down on crowd!! Only 2 things melt in the rain: sugar and sh**. I'm neither. lol