Steelers, Kent State and the Terrible Towel

09_sbxliii_celebrate02_103021Well, I woke up this morning and Six-Burgh was still the City of Champions. The Steelers had a Super Bowl ring for the second thumb. Or is it a six-pack? I don’t know. And I was able to run outside at 5 a.m. with the temperature a balmy 30 degrees.

And Obama called it yesterday in an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC before the game. The Coach in Chief predicted the Steelers would win in a close one. Now let’s hope he has the same good fortune and outcome with the economic stimulus package.

So here’s what I was thinking about while running this morning.

My daughter, Jessica, is living in Budapest. She sent me a text message last night lettting me know that her informal poll indicated that Hungary was indeed part of the Steeler Nation. I guess that makes sense. People there certainly know something about Steel Curtains.

The New York Times reported Saturday that the National Chicken Council says that those of us in the USA eat some eight billion chicken wings each year. (See, with all those chicken wings I told you last week that the PETA ad linking eating meat to impotence wouldn’t fly. I digress.) But the eight billion number is on the macroeconomic level — hard to relate to on the personal level. Much like the financial meltdown, an $87,000 office rug and so on. But this national issue — ordering chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday — came to life when my son, Brian, called and said he found out at the last minute that he had to preorder from a wings place near where he is living in Colorado Springs. It was dicey. But he got his wings. Praise the Lord.

Then there is Kent State. How can a university that never ever has a football team with a winning season send two great linebackers to the Steelers: Jack Lambert and James Harrison. Disclosure: I witnessed the all-time greatest moment (only great moment?) in the history of Kent State football. It came in 1972 when Don James on his way to greatness at the University of Washington led KSU to its first and only MAC championship. Doesn’t matter. As The Boss warbled at halftime — Harrison was born to run.

And in the midst of all the hype and related nonsense, here’s one story about the Steelers that really does matter. It’s about the Terrible Towel. And nah. It doesn’t have much to do with football, really. It’s about the legacy of one of the leaders of the Steeler Nation, Myron Cope, who died last year.  Here’s from the NYT article by John Branch:

“It’s actually been really hard for me, with the Steelers going to the Super Bowl,” the 38-year-old Elizabeth Cope said. “Because I have to see the Terrible Towels everywhere. It’s great. But it hurts.”

The towels are a swirling reminder of her father, Myron Cope, a longtime Pittsburgh broadcaster credited with creating the Terrible Towel in 1975. Before he died last February at age 79, Elizabeth Cope watched last year’s Super Bowl with him in his hospital room. She draped his coffin with a quilt that a fan had made out of Terrible Towels.

But the great part comes from what each of those towels does for people like Danny Cope, Myron’s son and Elizabeth’s older brother.

Myron Cope left behind something far more personal than a legacy of terrycloth, a battle flag for a city and its team. In 1996, he handed over the trademark to the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School. It is a network of campuses and group homes across Pennsylvania for people with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. It receives almost all the profits from sales of the towels.

If the Browns ever make it to the Super Bowl I’ll let one of my friends here in NE Ohio borrow my Terrible Towel for the day. It’s the original: black and gold. And I hope Browns fans do have the opportunity someday to experience a Super Bowl Sunday. It’s good for the community — and hey, I know exactly the best spot to preorder my chicken wings.

Then when I got back from my run this morning one of the first stories I read was about Tom Daschle. Wonder if the former Senate chief and soon-to-be Health Czar would voluntarily be writing a check for some $130,000 in back taxes if it wasn’t for his Senate confirmation hearing?

Oh well. Back to reality.


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