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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Have Terrible Towel, Will Travel

Here We Go: Part One

With the anticipation mounting for Super Bowl XLIII, finding a nice spot to enjoy the game might be a daunting task. If you can’t make it to Tampa, and are a Steelers fan, have no fear. Steeler Nation is a phenomenon that is rampant everywhere. The Pittsburgh Steelers have probably the most expansive fan base. Some credit the collapse of the steel industry as being the genesis of the movement. When the steel mills closed in the region, folks were forced to move away to find jobs. While their addresses may have changed, their love of the blue collar style team didn’t. They raised their families abroad loving the Steelers.

And Pittsburgh is a town that loves and remembers its roots. It’s a microcosm of immigrant America. The area is rich in varied backgrounds and even though the size of the city isn’t close to places like LA or New York, the population is just as diverse. Pittsburgh football is a testament to this culture. We’re the mutts of the NFL. We’re not the flashy, “bling” style of ball club like you find in Dallas or New York. The Steelers are hardworking, hard playing, and beloved across the nation.

In fact, at one point in time, NFL films offered the Rooney’s several titles that would market the Steelers much like The Dallas Cowboys, who are considered America’s Team. Dan Rooney turned down several saying “We’re Pittsburgh’s team.” Well, if the unofficial title bestowed upon Dallas’ club is America’s Team, then surely the Steelers must be “World’s Team” as evident by their symbol, The Terrible Towel being well recognized and documented all over the globe. And shame on the NFL for trying capitalize on a charitable cause by introducing the Trophy Towel. This cheap copycat is going to be draped over the winners of Super Bowl XLIII and then be available at retail outlets for $25.

What you may not know is that Myron Cope came up with towel as a gimmick to garner media sponsors. The towel was introduced in 1975 during the playoff run for The Steelers second Super Bowl win. 20 years later, Cope gave the rights to the towel over to the Allegheny Valley School. Sales of the towel have raised over $2 million dollars in the last decade for the school which cares for over 900 physically and mentally disabled people, including Cope’s own son, who has autism. The fact that the NFL is trying to piggyback the popularity of the towel in order to make a profit is deplorable.

So, if you find yourselves out of town for the big game take a look at these sites and see if you can find a local establishment that welcomes the sons and daughters of the black and gold.

From The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Terrible Towel Sightings
On Saturday Night Live
At The Beijing Olympics
Even In Space

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