MYRON COPE'S TERRIBLE TOWEL
Pittsburgh’s Myron Cope was a sports commentator unique to the city and the Steelers. He passed away in 2008, but he left a legacy that will stay with the team and their fans forever.
These days, you see quite a lot of sports fans twirling towels around stadiums, but they are mere imitations of the one associated with the Steelers - the Terrible Towel. An original idea conceived by Myron.
Two weeks prior to the Steelers' first playoff game of the 1975 season, the team's flagship radio station WTAE asked Myron to come up with a "gimmick" in order to attract sponsors to his daily commentaries and talk shows.
Myron was sceptical at first and did not want to participate saying, "I am not a gimmick guy, and have never been a gimmick guy." Despite his reservations, the idea began to take shape as they pondered on what they could come up with.
Eventually, Myron believed that the gimmick should be something "lightweight and portable and already owned by just about every fan." WTAE’s President of Sales, Larry Garrett suggested using towels.
Myron agreed, proposing the words, "The Terrible Towel" be printed on the front and that the towels would be gold or yellow, with the writing in black - the colours of the Steelers.
In the weeks leading up to the game, Myron advertised the idea of the towel to fans on the radio and evening television news, using the phrase "The Terrible Towel is poised to strike!"
The Towel made its debut on December 27, 1975 in a playoff game against the Baltimore Colts.
Prior to the game, Myron watched the gathering fans through his binoculars from the broadcast booth. Myron's idea had been mocked by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and he saw less than a dozen towels while players were going through their pre-game warm-ups and must have been thinking what a bad idea he had conceived.
Later Myron 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!"
The Steelers went on to defeat the Colts 28–10 and victories against the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys saw them win back-to-back Super Bowls. A feat they repeated four years later to become the first team to win four Super Bowls and complete the legend that made the Towel the most successful sports gimmick of all time.
Sports Business - the Management Newsletter for Sports Money Makers - put the Towel’s success down to a combination of both colour and motion. Myron joked that Sports Business' expertise in coming to that conclusion impressed him less than his audacity in creating the towel while ignorant of the fact that he was mixing a precise formula that would produce a "special almost unclassifiable gimmick."
In 1996, Myron gave the rights to The Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. The school provides care for more than 900 people with mental retardation and physical disabilities, including Myron’s autistic son. Proceeds from the Terrible Towel have helped raise over $2 million for the school.
So, anyone that thinks these photos are of an Englishman going crazy in his old age, just reflect on the money that we are earning for the school in Coraopolis, where my friend Ed resides. If you want to learn more, please visit their website>>>
A Towel has even been taken to the top of Mount Everest, but that’s a challenge I won’t be taking on.
In February 2010, my daughter Jodie became Mrs. Isherwood when she married the lovely Jon in South Africa. We felt that the Towel was important enough to have made it part of the wedding, and I am glad to say that everyone joined in the spirit of the Towel - how could you not want to be part of the magic?
My tribute to Myron>>>
My tribute to Myron's Towel>>>
The Towel at the London Olympics>>>
The Towel in China>>>
The Towel in England>>>
The Towel in South Africa>>>
The Towel Asia and Australasia>>>
The Towel in Europe>>>
The Towel in the USA>>>
The Towel in England II>>>