The Terrible Towel is a yellow towel created by Myron Cope in 1975 to support the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite initial reluctance from players, it became a popular symbol and inspired other sports teams to create their own versions. The original towel is still the most popular and proceeds from sales go to a school for people with disabilities. Myron Cope, the creator, was a radio broadcaster for the Steelers for 35 years and passed away in 2008.
The Terrible Towel is a well-known symbol of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a football team in the National Football League. The Terrible Towel was created as a promotional gimmick by Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope in 1975. In the week leading up to a playoff game against the Baltimore Colts in December 1975, Cope encouraged Pittsburgh Steelers fans to bring small yellow tea towels for match to show their support for the team.
Although The Terrible Towel is now ubiquitous at Steelers football games, many players were initially reluctant to the idea. Linebacker Jack Ham reportedly told Myron Cope, “I think your idea sucks!” Despite the players’ ambivalence, tens of thousands of fans came to the game excitedly waving their yellow towels. The Steelers defeated the Colts 28-10 and the legend of The Terrible Towel began.
The Steelers made it through the playoffs and were the American Football Conference (AFC) representative in Super Bowl X. The team decided to produce their own official towel, with “Myron Cope’s Official The Terrible Towel” written on them for the Super Bowl. The Steelers went on to defeat the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football Conference (NFC) by a score of 21-17.
The success of The Terrible Towel has inspired other professional sports teams to create their own versions of the towel. The Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League created “Towel Power” in 1982. The Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball developed “The Homer Hanky” in 1987. In 2009, the National Football League created “The Trophy Towel” for winners of the Super Bowl championship game.
Even with the many other towels created over the years, the original Terrible Towel is still arguably the most popular and best known of sports towels. Myron Cope registered his creation and in 1996 donated the trademark to the Allegheny Valley School which provides care and assistance to children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. Since 1996, proceeds from sales of The Terrible Towel and related merchandise have generated over $2.5 million US dollars for the school.
Myron Cope was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ radio broadcaster for 35 years. He retired in 2004 and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2005. Cope died on February 27, 2008 at the age of 79.