Monday, Apr 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Terrible Towel did more than fire up fans

Idle thoughts from an idle mind, while wondering if the old Terrible Towel needs ironing before Sunday's game:

•That towel, of course, is the symbol of the Pittsburgh Steelers and, even more so, their legion of fans. But it is also something else. Born as a radio station promotion by the late Myron Cope, one of the team's broadcasters, as the Steelers came to NFL prominence during the 1970s, it also has come to symbolize hope for some who may not fully understand what the word means.

Cope had the foresight to copyright his Terrible Towel and more than a decade ago he turned over the rights to a residential school for autistic and disabled children and adults located in a Pittsburgh suburb. Myron's son, who has autism, has lived there for many years. The school reportedly has realized proceeds of more than $2.5 million since Cope's sweet gift.

•Super Bowl pick: Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23. Even the Steelers' vaunted defensive curtain won't be able to shut down Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals' high-flying offense. But the Arizona defense has less of a chance of stopping Ben Roethlisberger & Co. Don't be surprised if this turns out to be one of the better Super Bowls in memory.

•Columbus, in its eighth season, is the only current NHL franchise to never make a playoff appearance, but goalie Steve Mason might change that. A first-year pro at any level, Mason has compiled an 18-11-2 record and leads all NHL goalies in goals-against average (2.04) and in shutouts with six. Before joining the Blue Jackets, Mason led Canada to the junior world championship with a 5-0-0 record and a 1.19 GAA, so he's no fluke. But at age 20 he's surely far ahead of reasonable expectations. And the Jackets find themselves contending for a playoff berth.

•We've received word of the recent death in Columbia, Mo., of Bill "Thunder" Thornton, one of the City League's all-time greatest football players while at Libbey High in the late 1950s. He continued as a two-way standout at fullback and linebacker at the University of Nebraska and also played for four seasons in the NFL. Later, he briefly served as head coach at Scott High before stints as an assistant coach at both Nebraska and Missouri.

In 1962, while playing for Bob Devaney, Thornton ran for two touchdowns despite a dislocated shoulder in a 25-13 win at Michigan, and added two touchdowns and the decisive two-point conversion against Miami (Fla.) in Nebraska's first-ever bowl victory.

•Congrats to Covenant School, a private Christian school in Dallas, not for its 100-0 girls basketball win over an opposing school that exists primarily for learning-disabled students, but for firing the coach who condoned it.

•Toledo coach Gene Cross admits he is overusing Justin Anyijong, the 6-foot-9 sophomore who can't possibly weigh anywhere near his listed 205 pounds. A native of Sudan who was used sparingly a year ago, Anyijong has played 37-plus minutes in six straight games and looked worn out at times against Akron on Wednesday. But he leads UT in rebounds and blocked shots and is just as likely to step out and bury a 3-pointer. "We don't have anyone with a similar skill set to replace him," Cross said.

•I guess maybe we should applaud Santonio Holmes, the one-time Ohio State star and current Pittsburgh receiver, for trying to inspire at-risk kids by using his Super Bowl platform to admit he pushed drugs as a youth. I guess. Maybe.

Contact Blade sports columnist

Dave Hackenberg at:

or 419-724-6398.

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