Myron Cope, colorful sports broadcaster and reporter whose Terrible Towel remains the banner of the Steelers nation, has died.
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In declining health since even before his 2005 retirement after a record 35 years of Steelers broadcasts, Mr. Cope died this morning of respiratory failure at the Covenant at South Hills nursing home in Mt. Lebanon.
He was 79.
One of the last of the great sports characters, Mr. Cope's life and career were nothing less than book-worthy, even if he had to write it himself. Twice.
"Double Yoi" it was called both times, the second an updated version of the original 2002 volume, the title immortalizing one of Mr. Cope's signature exclamations, which, along with "Okle-dokle," "Dumbkopf!", and "How do?", became so familiar to his radio and TV audiences.
Reaction to Mr. Cope's death poured in quickly both from inside and outside the sports world. That included a statement released by Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney:
"The entire Steelers organization is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Myron Cope. Myron touched millions of people throughout his life, first as a tremendous sportswriter and then as a Hall of Fame broadcaster.
"Myron was also a very close friend. His contributions and dedication to Steelers football were incredible. His creation of The Terrible Towel has developed into a worldwide symbol that is synonymous with Steelers football. He also helped immortalize the most famous play in NFL history when he popularized the term 'Immaculate Reception.'
Steelers President Art Rooney II added:
"Myron touched the hearts of Steelers fans for 35 years and became one of the true legends in broadcasting history. His memorable voice and unique broadcasting style became synonymous with Steelers football. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery and no Pittsburgh broadcaster was impersonated more than Myron." The Steelers officials also discussed Mr. Cope at a press conference later in the day.
Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato said:
"Like so many Steeler fans, I grew up listening to Myron Cope and his unforgettable voice and style. Myron symbolizes everything that is great about Southwestern Pennsylvania, and my thoughts and prayers go out his to family. Today, the entire Steeler Nation mourns the loss of a great man and a great Pittsburgher."
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said, "Certainly, it's a sad day in Pittsburgh. Myron Cope is a Pittsburgh legend, an icon, in so many ways, both obviously in his role with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but then also in what he did for the rest of the community in terms of giving things back.
"I had the opportunity to have him in here when I was on council a few years ago and gave him the key to the city when he retired once and for all. It was pretty obviously a great experience for me. I remember him in here talking and he just went on and on. You could clearly see at that time his health was declining, and he just enjoyed life until the last moment, and he'll sorely be missed. . . . and I know there's already a variety of things being done in his honor.
"We're considering some as well, to make sure that we pay tribute to somebody who has given so much to this great city.
"We're maybe looking at a Terrible Towel flag flying potentially in front of the City-County Building. But we have to get one made or figure out what we can do."
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.