Halloween Scare

October 31st, 2005

Halloween Scare

When the last night of October comes around, things get a little weird. Monsters and madmen creep out of the timbers and converge on the city. So as the Baltimore Ravens came to Pittsburgh for Monday Night Football, the Halloween air was thick with spooky lighting and rivals fighting. On Sundays tailgaters have the city to themselves, but on Mondays two worlds collide. Businessmen in suits turn their heads and glare as they pass hyped up fans on the sidewalk. Some businessmen duck into their cars like superman, shedding their suit and tie, emerging with a yellow terrible towel cape. And somewhere in the corner of your eye you’ll see a little goblin, three feet tall and ready to trick-or-treat.

Monday night games change up the tailgating crowds. Some fans who live outside of Pittsburgh might not be able to take Monday off of work to drive to the game. People who fly in for the game won’t be able to get home until Tuesday, adding another missed day of work. And those who make the ultimate sacrifice of love, take their kids trick-or-treating and stay home instead of heading down to Heinz Field. So for an activity that strives on ritual, Monday night means monkey wrenches for most tailgaters. But what Monday loses to chaos, it gains in excitement.

The Monday night match-up is the center stage for the week. Every NFL fan, as well as players and coaches from other teams get a chance to watch a prime time football game charged with emotion. Start with an old rivalry turned new, stir in the lifetime achievements of Myron Cope, Now mix into that cauldron Halloween hobgoblins. Oh yeah and a sprinkle of Steelers Football. That makes for a great Monday witching potion.

If you like thrillers, then this game was enough to make you uneasy. The Ravens, a team named after Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre poetry, were on their way to saying “nevermore” to Steelers at the end of the fourth quarter. Matching almost score for score throughout the game, the Ravens finally pulled ahead 19 to 17 with a little over three minutes left. This from a Baltimore team that hadn’t produced much all season. Scary. In the stands, people were wringing their Terrible Towels in agony. But once again, a confident Roethlisberger drive led to a winning field goal by Jeff Reed. And every Steeler fan laid awake all night, scared of the thought of losing to the Ravens. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

What might bring more anxiety is the tail of a generation born after today that will grow up with a Steeler experience that won’t include Myron Cope’s voice. Certainly the legend of Myron Cope will live and grow, but the unique crackly aesthetics of his voice I’m afraid will fade with our memories. Hopefully recordings of thrity-five years of broadcasts will survive but as for turning down the volume on the national television sportscasters, and cranking up Myron’s radio broadcast, that seems to be “nevermore.”

At halftime, Myron came out onto the field for a special honor. He received a jersey, number 35, for his 35 years as a broadcaster for the Steelers Radio Network. And to go with that he received a giant towel wave in his honor. On the scoreboard fans could see Myron smiling and waving his towel with great pride. To Myron Cope’s slight chagrin, he might be remembered as the inventor of a sports gimmick: The Terrible Towel. But his writings are his proudest accomplishments. I hope to meet Myron someday and ask him about his thoughts on the Steeler Nation. Hopefully his words will live long after the radio goes silent.

Yellow is a difficult color. When the seats are empty in the Mustard Palace, the wash of yellow is garish. When the stadium is swirling with Terrible Towels, its beautifully alive. It is a sight to give grown men the chills of pride, like the final fews words of the Star Spangled Banner. When you tuck yourself in tonight have no fear. Myron’s Terrible Towel will live on as the banner of the Steeler Nation for “evermore.”

Steelers defeat Baltimore Ravens 20-19

Halloween Scare

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