PITTSBURGH, Pa. — One of the most iconic items in sports today, the Terrible Towel was born on Dec. 27, 1975 by Myron Cope while working as sportscaster at a local radio station.
Cope, an icon himself in local sports history, wrote he was called into the station general manager’s office and was told he had better come up with some sort of gimmick. He only had a few months left on his contract.
Cope urged fans to bring yellow dish towels to the game and wave them.
Nearing kickoff for the next game on a rainy, cold day, Cope wrote, tens of thousands of towels were waving in the air around the stadium and the legend of the towel was born.
The Steelers embraced the towels and printed scores of gold towels with black lettering proclaiming them “Myron Cope’s Official Terrible Towel” in time for Super Bowl X in January 1976.
In 1996, Cope gave the rights to the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School in the Pittsburgh suburb of Coraopolis. Proceeds from sales help to fund the school, which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Today, the Terrible Towel can be found in the standard gold with black lettering, in a camouflage edition, in special editions for various holidays, in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, as a full-length beach towel and printed in various languages. It’s been taken to the peak of Mount Everest and blasted into space to the International Space Station.
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