Saturday, January 31, 2009

Myron's Terrible Towel Lives On

Growing up a Steelers fan in the 1970s, in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, I witnessed the genesis of Myron Cope's brilliant marketing prop, the Terrible Towel.

The New York Times clues in the rest of the planet about the towel and the legacy Myron left behind in an article appropriately titled For Terrible Towel's, a Wonderful Legacy.

Born in 1975 from the recesses of Cope's brain (um-HA!) as a marketing ploy to generate excitement for the playoffs, the towel had a humble, Steel-town beginning - Myron beseeched fans to bring towels of either black or gold to the Colts playoff game. A simple towel might pass blue-collar muster in Pittsburgh, as they were functional and utilitarian in a manner that pom-poms or pennants could never be. Can you imagine a season ticket holder with a pom-pom in one hand and a cup of Ahrn Shitty in the other? I didn't think so.

Yoy! The concept caught on, the Steelers won their second straight Super Bowl, and soon the towel was both trademarked and mass produced. Yea, verily.

It was an interesting story for a teenager of the 70s, but it wasn't until I lived as an adult in Pittsburgh from 1985-1993 that I learned the other part of the story.

Myron held the trademark for the Terrible Towel, okel dokel, but also had a son who was diagnosed with severe mental retardation at age 2. Danny Cope would require 24 hour supervision, so loving father Myron worked with the Allegheny Valley School to provide the care and attention Danny needed.

In 1996, after four Steelers Super Bowl victories and the sale of hundreds of thousands of Terrible Towels, Cope handed off the Towel trademark to the school in an act of love and kindness that speaks volumes about Myron as a man. The school has received more than $2.5 million in funds from the trademark since 1996.

Nearly 1 million of those dollars came from sales around the Steelers 2005 Super Bowl win over dem Sea-hawks, and it's conceivable that similar sales will be posted should the Black & Gold come out of the Arizona Cardinal game with their sixth trophy.

Help Myron's legacy live on through providing Danny and others with the care and services they need. Pick up a Terrible Towel or three this weekend, and display them proudly. It will be good for America.

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