Curse of the Terrible Towel to befall Ravens, boost Steelers?
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has come under fire this week for derisively waving, wearing a Terrible Towel following the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday night. Pittsburgh linebacker LaMarr Woodley took to Twitter to call out Rice, tweeting: “If youre not a steelers fan, dont put your hands on a terrible towel.” And then “Bad idea ray just ask lendale white and tj whosyourmama.”
Woodley was making reference to the Curse of the Terrible Towel, which seems to befall opposing teams that disrespect the towel. Consider the case of LenDale White and Keith Bulluck, who stomped on a Terrible Towel following a convincing 31-14 win over the Steelers at LP Field in Nashville in December 2008. At that moment, the Titans seemed Super Bowl bound, sporting a 13-2 record. But Tennessee was shut out 23-0 in its season finale at Indianapolis, and then lost to the sixth-seeded Ravens 13-10 in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh went in the opposite direction, winning its season finale 31-0, and then defeating the Chargers and Ravens en route to a Super Bowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals. (Incidentally, during the week before that Super Bowl the Cardinals’ mascot was seen wiping his furry armpits with a Terrible Towel and the mayor of Phoenix mock blew his nose in one.)
But the Titans’ misery wasn’t over. Tennessee started the 2009 season 0-6 (including a season-opening loss at Pittsburgh), a streak topped off by a 59-0 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots. At that point, Nashville radio host Thom Abraham stepped in to try to “reverse the curse,” by sending a Terrible Towel signed by White and Bulluck to the Allegheny Valley School (which cares for people with physical and mental disabilities and receives proceeds from the sale of Terrible Towels) along with the message: “Please release the curse.” A few days later, on November 1, 2009 — ten and a half months after stomping the towel — the Titans finally tasted victory again with an easy win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bengals have also been hit by the curse. On December 4, 2005, during a 38-31 win over the Steelers, Cincinnati wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh wiped his feet with a Terrible Towel. At that point in time, the Bengals seemed poised to reach the Super Bowl, but Cincinnati lost its final two games of the season — and then bowed to Pittsburgh in the playoffs (after Bengals QB Carson Palmer tore his ACL on the second play of the game). The Steelers went on to beat the Colts and Broncos en route to a Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks. As for the Bengals, they didn’t post another winning season until 2009.