Big Lead Sports Bar


Hey Clay Travis: St. Clair Hospital Wrapping Babies in Terrible Towels

There's a great story on the Chartiers Valley Patch website today about what's happening at St. Clair Hospital, where the staff is wrapping newborns in Terrible Towels and Steeler knit hats. It's just another example of what this yellow piece of cloth means in unifying the people of this region, and even to a sometimes-cynical person like myself, I think it's pretty cool. Of course, there's another side to the Terrible Towel coin, as we've seen this week.

As you know by now, Fanhouse's Clay Travis wrote a desperate attention-grab of a story ripping the Towel this week in a story that's been linked from coast to coast and eventually resulting in an interview with WTAE. That's where Travis proceeded to pile on and question the actual value of the Towel's charity effects on the city. Good times:
"The proceeds is a good thing. I don't know anyone who has an issue with money going to charity," Travis said. "Now, is it that substantial an amount of charity? I mean, every year, they give less to charity than they pay the worst Steeler football player, so it's not like this is some multimillion-dollar-every-year industry that's changing the face of Pittsburgh. I mean, it's a little bit of money. It's better than not anything. But it's not like it's a seismic difference in the overall scope of the city."

When Ingram noted that the towel has generated more than $3 million for charity, Travis responded, "Over 15 years, though. What is that -- $200,000 a year? I'm just saying they pay the worst Steeler over $300,000 a year, so the worst player on the Steeler football team makes more money than the Terrible Towel has ever given back to the city."
The Terrible Towel is something that's near and dear to the hearts of Pittsburghers. They take towels with them on vacation around the globe, they take them to war, they take them to space, they make music videos about them, they wrap babies in them, they wave them after they win first star in an NHL game. Anytime you crack the invisible barrier that makes something so meaningful and personal to so many people from a region, yeah, they're going to be defensive when you "disrespect" it. 

Is it silly to give so much emotional value to a towel? Not really, because it's more about the symbol than the cloth. Why is that so difficult to comprehend? By insulting the towel, you're insulting Pittsburgh, whether the offending party realizes it or not. Pittsburghers are a proud group of people with a very limited tolerance for cheap shots at their town. Apparently that's lost on Clay Travis. And TJ Houshmandzadeh. And Keith Bulluck. And so on and so on. But it will never be lost on me, and I'll always be proud to say I'm a Pittsburgher, whether they like it or not.

Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc):


Koz said...

I wonder how Clay Travis feels about the American flag. I mean, it's just some stitched cloth, right? It's not like it's doing anything; just hanging there blowing in the wind.

mondesishouse said...

Could not think of a better example

Unknown said...

he's a rabble rouser.......he posted a story making fun of one of the largest fan bases in the country and trashing their city. He knew exactly what he was doing. He got what he he can print ignorant Steeler fan emails and feel vindicated.

Koz said...

You know, I'm fine with his opinion if he thinks it's dumb, he's certainly not alone.

However, in the interview when he tries to downplay the $200K per year to charity by comparing it to what "the worst Steeler makes" that really is an embarrassing straw man argument.

How much football players make doesn't minimize a multi-million dollar contribution to charity, no matter what the timeline of that gift is.

It's one thing to pen a cynical piece during the obscenely over-hyped two weeks before the Super Bowl and sneer at fans for taking photos with a dish rag all over the world. It really takes a winner to be so arrogant, ignorant, and desperate to make a name for himself that he'll disparage it in every way, including downplaying a charitable gift to help the less fortunate.

Someone should challenge Clay and Fanhouse to pony up $200K for the Allegheny Valley School if it's such a piddling amount.

Unknown said...

I took Travis' article as a joke and thought some of it was a little bit funny. There was also an article on the same site making fun of the ridiculous Cheese Heads the Packers fans wear.

But he's still bashing the Towel in interviews? Time to let it go, Clay. Calm down.

Borsk said...

It's easy to peg something as dumb and idiotic if you're unfamiliar with it. People always call the Terrible Towel a "dish rag" or "some dumb rag", but it is what it is: the Flag of Steeler Nation and an immediately identifiable piece of Pittsburgh.

If it wasn't so widely used he might have a point. The fact that all 65000 fans at Heinz Field bring their own, charity contributing, towel from home and wave it means something different entirely.

Taking your picture with the towel in places is just a way of saying "I'm a proud Pittsburgher." There's nothing wrong with that.

His dismissal of the charity is completely below the line and deplorable. I can't believe the interviewer to lambaste him more for it.

Koz said...


Good point. I forgot my normal tagline that people are going out and buying these towels. They aren't free giveaways from the team. Same goes for those Cheeseheads. I've seen the company that makes all that assorted cheese paraphernalia, from hats to... basically anything, out of that foam. What a gold mine that guy has. I don't think there are any charitable proceeds directly to the Cheeseheads, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

Louis Lipps Sinks Ships said...

Dammit Koz -- I was just about to use the American flag thing too. Beat me to it.

Reading Clay's piece, it looks like he was assigned a "point-counterpoint" style face-off with the other author, who wrote about how stupid the cheeseheads were. Clay's assignment was to mock the Towel as much as possible, so that's why some of it seems forced.

The remarks about the charity proceeds goes too far though...not sure why he felt the need to continue that in the WTAE interview. "The NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness Month raises less money for charity than the poorest NFL owner makes, so that breast cancer cause is stupid!" I hope he was saying that tongue-in-cheek as an attempt to be a heel in Pittsburgh. Otherwise, he's a good bit off-base.

Cool Hand Nuke said...

Hey Travis. There's a difference between 'silly' and 'stupid'. Sure, the terrible towel was a 'silly' idea/gimmick to begin with, but I would argue that the spirit behind it has made it what it is today - a symbol.

Also, anyone know how much the Steelers have donated independently to the Allegheny Valley School?

Borsk said...

He was given a point/counter-point, but he didn't treat it like that after the fact. He just kept rubbing it in and continuing to trash the city...then the interview which put people completely over the top.

Steelers in the Super Bowl means every website can write anti-Pittsburgh/anti-Steelers material and get tons of clicks. Can't blame them exactly, but it's pitiful to see.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to really take this article to heart as a result of this guy's clear ignorance - much like racists hating people for no other fact than simply because they aren't like them.

If you aren't a part of it, you don't understand. I liken the towel to a religious symbol - sure wearing a beanie on your head may seem silly to a non-semite, but it's more than just a beanie or a hat - it's a reminder that the lord is always above them. Although it may seem extreme to liken a religion to a football franchise, it's the same concept. The towel reminds us of our past and brings us together as a nation - much like a religion. Again, if you aren't a part of it, it's hard to understand and may seem silly, but Steelers football is a lot like a religion for us and the entire city of Pittsburgh.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I heard about this but I really don't care.

I mean, in the end, he's the one that looks like a spiteful asshole, not us.

Tony Defeo said...

I heard a radio interview with him this morning. What a jackass. So, he got what he wanted out of the deal: Publicity. Good for him. What a hack.

MJ said...

Yinz are spending way to much on that douche. He doesn't deserve anoter minute of our time. Just enjoy the Terrible Towel for what it means to us, which obviously is a lot after looking at those dads with their babies.

Real McCoy said...
Link to site for AVS.
I feel sure the school has received much positive publicity and other benefits from their connection with Myron and the Terrible Towel that go well behond the direct payments (which are still very substantial on their own).

Unknown said... an great story. And...minimizing $3 million - is just moronic.