If you know me well, you know that I am a huge Steeler fan! I was a fan when I was a little girl, I was a fan when I moved to Pittsburgh to get married and start a family, and (according to my husband) I’ve become an even bigger fan since we left Pittsburgh in 2001. So it should come as no surprise that I’m writing a little about my favorite team playing my favorite sport!
It has been quite a year for my boys in black and gold….and I could write all night about Ben’s quest for redemption, Harrison’s hard-hitting toughness, Ward’s great big smile and strong leadership, Miller and Wallace and their glorious sticky fingers, Pouncey’s amazing rookie season, Mendenhall’s ground game, Suisham stepping in, Polamalu’s hair and superhuman skill, Brett Kiesel’s mythical beard…Timmons, Woodley, Hampton, Tomlin, LeBeau, Mr. Rooney….the list goes on and on….
But, as any TRUE Steeler fan knows, one of the most beloved icons of Steeler history comes from THE most beloved voice in Steeler history. The voice belonged to Myron Cope, and the icon of the Steeler Nation…the Terrible Towel.
The story of the Terrible Towel goes something like this…Prior to the Steeler’s first playoff game of the ’75 season, Myron was asked to help come up with a “gimmick” to ignite the fans.
“I said, what we need is something that everybody already has, so it doesn’t cost a dime. So I says, ‘We’ll urge people to bring out to the game gold or black towels,’ then I’ll tell people if you don’t have a yellow, black or gold towel, buy one. And if you don’t want to buy one, dye one. We’ll call this the Terrible Towel.”
— Myron Cope on the invention of the Terrible Towel.
Cope would tout the versatility of the towel…to clean your seat, protect you from the rain, protect your face from Pittsburgh cold winter weather…fans surprisingly loved them and have been twirling them ever since. The most beautiful part of the story is that in 1996, Cope gave the rights to the Allegheny Valley School in Coraopolis, PA (just outside of Pittsburgh), where Cope’s autistic son is a resident. Proceeds of the Terrible Towel support the school, which cares for more than 900 people with mental retardation and physical disabilities. And because Steeler fans know the power of the towel comes from the generosity and authenticity of Myron, I predict the sales will never slow down and I predict the school will be set forever. Myron passed away in 2008, and his colorful commentary and “Cope-isms” are dearly missed, but he left a beautiful legacy.
As I sit here watching my boys playing their game, I’m proud to wave my towel in support of my team and clutch it when things aren’t looking good. Win or lose, the towel remains as a symbol of the true spirit of Myron Cope and the Steeler Nation.
Click here if you’re interested in getting your own Terrible Towel!