When Myron Cope introduced the The Terrible Towel in 1975, many Pittsburgh Steelers voiced against the concept, some labeling it as too "gimmicky." The Men of Steel were preparing to defend a championship for the first time, and the popular announcer was asked to produce a gimmick heading into the playoffs.
Deciding to carry forward with "that towel idea," a timeless cultural craze would be born. Myron publicly announced to all who would listen that "The Terrible Towel was poised to strike!"
Cope's yellow towel graced Three Rivers Stadium, and the Colts entered town with dreams of a Steel City upset lingering in their minds.
One of the towel's naysayers, Andy Russell scooped up a Baltimore fumble, returning it 93 yards for a touchdown. His success, coupled with Cope's claims that the cloth possessed powers that would propel the Steelers to victory, inspired a response from the eccentric broadcaster! A fan, Lisa Benz, wrote words describing the mystic events, and Cope read her poem with the zaniness only he could produce:
"He ran ninety-three
like a bat out of hell,
And no one could see
How he rambled so well.
"It was easy," said Andy
And he flashed a crooked smile,
"I was snapped on the fanny
By the Terrible Towel!"
-Lisa Benz, as read by Myron Cope
With winning, the "gimmick" was suddenly embraced...to no surprise!
In the years and decades since its creation, the towel has become a central symbol, as powerful (if not more so) than the logo on the team's helmets. While its origins of supernatural blessings on the Men of Steel still hold their place with Steelers fans, tens of thousands of twirling "terribles" at every home game are a sign of the great communal loyalty of a city and its beloved team.
Sales of the Steelers staple helps to educate and care for children with disabilities, notably at the Allegheny Valley School, who use Cope's generosity to care for those in need.
From the outsiders' perspective, it would be easy to view it as another "shtick" from another professional franchise. But, as it concerns banshee-like towel waving, the Steelers and Cope own the original and best of the bunch. Beyond the awe-inspiring site of a stadium blanketed in circular yellow waves, the towel holds a history and meaning that is deeper than just sports.
The Terrible Towel has been to many locations, ranging from the deserts of war to weddings to the moon, and nearly every Steelers fanatic has a few. After all, from its original roots have spawned "themed" towels, each carrying the distinct recognizable look of the classic with its own twist.
There are a few that aren't on the list, including the pink towels. While I love the charity behind these sales, colors define franchises, so I would prefer a more subtle use of the pink. They rank, in my opinion, with pink jerseys.
Also, the individual Super Bowl towels (and conference championship items) are not individually included in the countdown.
Keep in mind that this is just opinion, a fun recap of towels past and present. Any sentiment fans have for one version over the other cannot be taken from them, and we all have that one battered, yet tried and true, stringy towel that is the good luck charm. Bless it!
So, which Terrible Towel is the most terrible (in a good way) of the "Terrible's?" Let's find out!