Every great nation has a flag. Steeler Nation has what might be one of the greatest. The late,great Steelers radio announcer Myron Cope created the Terrible Towel during the playoffs in 1975 and Steeler Nation would never be the same again!
Myron Cope was told by WTAE ,his employer at the time to come up with a “gimmick” to get Steelers fans more involved during the Steelers 1975 playoff run.
Cope and his employers came to the conclusion that they would ask fans to bring a towel namely because nearly everyone had one and they were portable and lightweight.
Cope told his bosses… “We could call it the Terrible Towel. Yes, and I can go on radio and television proclaiming, ‘The Terrible Towel is poised to strike!’”
The Steelers would go on to defeat the Baltimore Colts,the Oakland Raiders and then win Super Bowl X by defeating the Dallas Cowboys. The power of the towel had just begun and it was a hit!
Little did Cope know that he had just created a legendary Steeler symbol of unity and a Steeler Nation icon that would stand the test of time.
The Terrible Towel has become synonymous not only with the Pittsburgh Steelers but Steelers fans and Steeler Nation . The Terrible Towel is a prized possession of all true Pittsburgh Steelers fans, with many being handed down as family heirloom and passed down from generation to generation.
Many fans have their own special way of displaying their Terrible Towel in their homes and especially on game days
Pittsburgh Steelers fans unite where ever the Steelers play ,home or away,towels in hand ,waving their beloved towels ,giving the Steelers that extra boost and causing havoc for opposing teams.
Many Steelers fans have stories of the towel’s greatness and power. I have one of my own.
It was Super Bowl XLIII, I was at Super Bowl party with family and friends, the Steelers had the lead 10-7 but it looked like the Arizona Cardinals were about to take a 14-10 lead with just 17 seconds till the half.
Quarterback Kurt Warner and the Cardinals had the football at the Steelers 3 and looked primed to score…
The room at the Super Bowl party had gone quiet with nervousness and gloom. We then stood up and got our Terrible Towels going in a twirling frenzy!!! I looked to the sky and yelled out C’mon Myron!!!
Boom! James Harrison intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown!!! A key turning point in the game and one of the greatest defensive plays in Super Bowl history! The Steelers would go on to win their 6th Super Bowl 27-23.
Now, am I saying the Terrible Towel played a part in the outcome? I won’t say that it did but I also can’t say that it didn’t. I can only tell you what happened and you can make your own conclusions.
Over the years many Steelers opponents have tried to disrespect the Terrible Towel, needless to say, they would later regret these actions!
Before the 1994 playoff game with the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland running back Earnest Byner stomped on a Terrible Towel… The Steelers would go on to beat the Browns 29-9.
Bengals wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh would wipe his feet with the Terrible Towel after a game winning catch in the regular season December 4, 2005. The Steelers would meet the Bengals again in the playoffs and beat them 31-17.
Before Super Bowl XLIII the mayor of Phoenix at a Cardinal pep rally blew his nose into the towel. The Steelers would beat his Cardinals in the Super Bowl 27-23.
The 2008 Tennessee Titans beat the Steelers 31-14 clinching a play-off spot with a 13-2 record.Afterward a few Titans players celebrated by stomping on the Terrible Towel. The Titans would lose the next 8 straight games and did not win another game until the players wrote a written apology to the Allegheny Valley School, which receives a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Terrible Towel.
So does the Terrible Towel have magical power?…. Creator Myron Cope explained it best…
Myron Cope:”The Terrible Towel is not an instrument of witchcraft … It is not a hex upon the enemy. The Towel is a positive force that lifts the Steelers to magnificent heights and poses mysterious difficulties for the Steelers’ opponents only if need be. Many have told me that the Terrible Towel brought them good fortune, but I can’t guarantee that sort of thing because the Steelers, after all, are the Towel’s primary concern. Still, at the least, the symbol of the Terrible Towel will serve as a memento of your having been part of the Steeler Dynasty and if it causes good things to happen to you, so much the better.”
One of the greatest things about the Terrible Towel is a portion of the proceeds of the sale of one goes to charity. In 1996, Cope donated the trademark of The Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School, a private, non-profit agency that cares for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities. Cope’s son Danny has been a resident at the school since 1982.
The school has reportedly raised millions of dollars through the trademark rights of the Terrible Towel
Over the years many teams have tried to imitate the Terrible Towel but none have succeeded. Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann said it best…
Lynn Swann: “There is only one Terrible Towel for any team in the National Football League,anyone who is waving any other color, means nothing.”
Steelers fans have taken the Terrible Towel world wide! Its shown up just about everywhere imaginable including outer space!
Now,the Pittsburgh Steelers are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terrible Towel this Sunday, as they take on the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Many so called experts think the Steelers don’t have a chance in this high stakes divisional battle.
But little do they know… “The Terrible Towel is poised to strike!”
So Steeler Nation, rise up and wave that Terrible Towel!!!