Nothing unites or identifies a Steelers fan more than a Terrible Towel. It’s become an iconic symbol for fans, with Terrible Towels passed down through generations, or purchased when a new Steelers fan is born.
The Terrible Towel was the brainchild of former Steelers radio announcer Myron Cope during the playoffs in 1975 and helped provide the magic touch as the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl X over the Dallas Cowboys.
Since then the Terrible Towel has been a staple in the homes of all Steelers fans, and players as well. During introductions at Three Rivers Stadium and now at Heinz Field you often see players waving the towel to the thrill of the hometown crowd. But it’s visible on the road as well, with Terrible Towels filling opposing stadiums to the point where other teams hand out towels of their own to try and combat the mystical powers the towel has.
When babies are born, they are wrapped in the Terrible Towel in the hospital. Couples have waved Terrible Towels at their wedding.
The Terrible Towel has been taken to the highest mountains and to the depths of the seas, hangs in neighborhood restaurants and has traveled around the world, from the Great Wall of China to the Vatican to the South Pole and more.
It’s flown on military missions and even went to space thanks to Astronaut Colonel Mike Fincke, a Pittsburgh native, who waved the towel from the International Space Station.
While the original Terrible Towel is undoubtedly the most popular, other official versions have been introduced over the years including those commemorating Super Bowl Championships, a pink breast cancer towel, a camouflage towel, and towels to celebrate holidays such as Christmas, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.
A new tradition was introduced at Heinz Field in 2010 called the “Terrible Towel Twirl,” with special guests having the honor of starting the entire Heinz Field crowd in a towel twirl. Among those who have participated include former players Dermontti Dawson and Alan Faneca, actors Billy Gardell, Joe Manganiello, and Jesse Williams, actresses Alyssa Milano, Tamara Tunie and Jane Seymour, rapper Wiz Khalifa and Astronaut Buzz Aldrin to name a few.
A portion of the sales from the Terrible Towel benefits the Allegheny Valley School in Pittsburgh, a charity that had special meaning to Cope.
The Terrible Towel truly is a Steelers’ tradition and Steelers players love seeing the fans turn Heinz Field into a sea of Terrible Towels.