Myron Cope

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Myron Cope
Cope during his final radio show in 1995.
Myron Sidney Kopelman[1]

January 23, 1929
DiedFebruary 27, 2008(2008-02-27) (aged 79)
Known for
Sports commentary career
TeamPittsburgh Steelers
SportAmerican football

Myron Sidney Kopelman (January 23, 1929 – February 27, 2008), known professionally as Myron Cope, was an American sports journalist, radio personality, and sportscaster. He is best known for being "the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers".

Cope was a color commentator for the Steelers' radio broadcasts for 35 years. He was known for his distinctive, higher-pitched nasally voice with an identifiable Pittsburgh accent, idiosyncratic speech pattern, and a level of excitement rarely exhibited in the broadcast booth. Cope's most notable catch phrase was "yoi"[2] /ˈjɔɪ/. Cope was the first football announcer inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.[3] Cope's autobiography, Double Yoi!, was published in 2002.[4]

Education and career[edit]

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Jewish parents of Lithuanian ancestry, Cope graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 1947 and was inducted into their alumni hall of fame in 2009.[5][6] He also graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.[7] He was originally a journalist before becoming a broadcaster. His first job as a journalist was in Erie, Pennsylvania, with the Daily Times,[8] and by the summer of 1951, he was working for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.[9] Cope then became a freelance journalist, most notably for Sports Illustrated,[1] the Saturday Evening Post,[8] and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.[3] In 1963, Cope received the E.P. Dutton Prize for "Best Magazine Sportswriting in the Nation", for a portrayal of Cassius Clay.[10] Cope spent the 1983 college football season as a color analyst for the Pittsburgh Panthers.[7] In 1987, he was named by the Hearst Corporation as a noted literary achiever, along with Mark Twain, Jack London, Frederic Remington, Walter Winchell, and Sidney Sheldon.[10] At its 50th anniversary, Sports Illustrated selected Cope's profile of Howard Cosell as one of the 50 best written works ever published in the magazine.[3]

Family life[edit]

Cope married Mildred Lindberg of Charleston in 1965, and the couple moved to Mt. Lebanon.[11] In 1972, the Copes moved to nearby Upper St. Clair.[12] Mildred died on September 20, 1994.[9] In 1999, Cope moved back to Mt. Lebanon, to a condo in the Woodridge neighborhood.[12] He remained there until his final days, when he entered a Mt. Lebanon nursing home.[8]

Cope had three children, Elizabeth, Martha Ann, and Daniel.[9] Martha Ann died shortly after her birth.[13] His son, Daniel, was born with severe autism; he has lived most of his life at the Allegheny Valley School, an institution specializing in intellectual developmental disabilities.[14] Cope devoted much of his time and energy to Pittsburgh causes addressing autism, and spoke candidly about his experiences as the parent of a child with autism and his efforts to better educate the public at large about autism.[14]

Steelers broadcasting[edit]

Cope waves a Terrible Towel at Heinz Field – October 31, 2005

In 1968, Cope began doing daily sports commentaries on what was then WTAE-AM radio in Pittsburgh.[15] His unique nasal voice, with a distinctive Pittsburgh area accent, was noticed by the Steelers' brass, and he made his debut as a member of the Steelers' radio team in 1970.[16]

During Cope's 35-year broadcasting career with the Steelers—the second longest term with a single team in NFL history, he was accompanied by only two play-by-play announcers: Jack Fleming, with whom he broadcast until 1994, and Bill Hillgrove.[8][13]

In keeping with his comic personality, a series of television commentaries on WTAE-TV saw Cope calling himself "Doctor Cope" and wearing a white lab coat while pretending to examine the opposing team's strengths and weaknesses. His predictor was known as the "Cope-ra-scope."[17]

In his last seven years, Cope would work alongside former Steelers offensive tackle Tunch Ilkin in the booth and help groom him for his own broadcasting career. Ilkin, upon his own retirement in 2021 due to complications from ALS (which he would later die from on September 4, 2021), later joked that while he learned a lot from riding in the car with Cope for away games, Cope primarily rode with him because he allowed Cope to smoke cigarettes in the car.[18] Ilkin would eventually serve as a de facto replacement for Cope following Cope's retirement.

Catchphrases and nicknames[edit]

Like other sports announcers in Pittsburgh, particularly Penguins commentator Mike Lange and the late Pirates announcer Bob Prince, Cope had a repertoire of unique catchphrases employed in his broadcasts, such as "Mmm-Hah!" (when he loses his train of thought, or forgets a player's name) and "Okel Dokel" (his version of "okey dokey").[8] Cope often used Yiddish expressions, especially "Feh!" and "Yoi!" (sometimes multiplied as "Double Yoi" or rarely "Triple Yoi").

Cope also created nicknames for many players and opposing teams. It was Cope who popularized "The Bus" as a nickname for former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, "Jack Splat" for Jack Lambert, and he gave Kordell Stewart the nickname "Slash."[19]

Cope also used the term "Cincinnati Bungles" to describe their division rivals, known during the 1990s for a string of bad seasons and numerous draft busts.[20][21][22] Myron also used terms such as "Brownies," "Birdies," "Yonkos," "Cryboys," and "Redfaces" for the football teams from Cleveland, Baltimore, Denver, Dallas, Washington, D.C., in respective order.[23][24][25][26]

Cope was noted for accusing future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente of being "baseball's champion hypochondriac".[27]

Terrible Towel[edit]

I said, what we need is something that everybody already has, so it doesn't cost a dime. So I says, 'We'll urge people to bring out to the game gold or black towels,' then I'll tell people if you don't have a yellow, black or gold towel, buy one. And if you don't want to buy one, dye one. We'll call this the Terrible Towel.

— Myron Cope on the invention of the Terrible Towel[28]

Cope played a large role in the invention of the Terrible Towel.[29] Needing a way to excite the fans during a 1975 playoff game against the Baltimore Colts, Cope urged fans to take yellow dish towels to the game and wave them throughout.[28] Originally, Cope wanted to sell rubber Jack Lambert masks, but realizing the high costs for the masks, opted for the inexpensive option for the Terrible Towel. The Terrible Towel has gained much popularity since its invention and "is arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team".[29] The catchphrase is: "The Terrible Towel is poised to strike, and so are The Steelers."

In 1996, Cope gave the rights to The Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.[14] The school provides care for more than 900 people[30] with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, including Cope's son who has severe autism.[2] Proceeds from the Terrible Towel have helped raise $3 million for the school.[31]

Retirement and death[edit]

A special edition of "The Terrible Towel" was created in honor of Cope's retirement following the 2005 Steelers' season.

Cope announced his retirement from broadcasting on June 20, 2005, citing health concerns.[32] Eight days later, it was announced that Cope was the recipient of the Pete Rozelle Award for "long-time exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football."[33] Upon his retirement, the Steelers did not replace Cope, opting instead to downsize to a two-man broadcast team.[13]

On October 31, 2005, Cope was honored for his lifetime accomplishments at halftime of the contest between the Steelers and the Ravens.[34] In addition, the Steelers produced a special commemorative edition Terrible Towel with his familiar expressions printed on it. As seen on the towel, production was limited to 35,000 towels, representing 35 years of service to the Steelers. Later that season when the team advanced to Super Bowl XL, many Steelers fans wanted Cope to come out of retirement just to call "The one for the thumb." Cope declined partially for health reasons and partially to enjoy retirement.[citation needed]

A longtime heavy smoker, Cope died of respiratory failure at a Mt. Lebanon nursing home on the morning of February 27, 2008.[13][35] In the days following his death, many ceremonies were held in his honor, including the local sporting events of the Pittsburgh Panthers college basketball team.[36] Two days after his death, hundreds of people gathered in heavy snow in front of the Pittsburgh City Hall to honor Cope; included in the ceremony was one minute of silent Terrible Towel waving.[37] His funeral, which was held on February 29, 2008, was private.[38] Due to Cope's large impact on the Pittsburgh area, Bob Smizik, a local sportswriter wrote,

Had the secret of the service and its site not been kept, ... tens of thousands would have descended on the Slater funeral home in Green Tree. Such was the affection for Cope, ... that the parkway in both directions would have been clogged. Greentree and Cochran roads, the two main arteries leading to the funeral home, would have been parking lots.[38]

List of awards and honors[edit]

Cope received many awards and honors, including:


  • Brown, Jim; Myron Cope (1964). Off My Chest. Doubleday. p. 230. (Jim Brown's autobiography)
  • Cope, Myron (1968). Broken Cigars. Prentice-Hall. p. 275. (collection of articles)
  • Cope, Myron (1970). The Game that was: The Early Days of Pro Football (edition 1 ed.). World Publishing Company. p. 294.
  • Cope, Myron (1974). The Game that was: An Illustrated Account of the Tumultuous Early Days of Pro Football (edition 2 ed.). Crowell. p. 253. ISBN 0-690-00586-5.
  • Cope, Myron (2002). Double Yoi! (edition 1 ed.). Sports Publishing, L.L.C. p. 229. ISBN 1-58261-548-9.(autobiography)
  • Cope, Myron (2006). Double Yoi! (edition 2 ed.). Sports Publishing, L.L.C. pp. 229. ISBN 1-59670-069-6.(autobiography)


  1. ^ a b "Myron Cope". Radio Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 3, 2008. Retrieved February 27, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Fybush, Scott (March 3, 2008). "This Week's Bloodbath: Citadel". NorthEast Radio Watch.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gene Collier (February 28, 2008). "Remembering Myron Cope: He spoke for Steelers Nation in a language all his own". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  4. ^ Cope, Myron (2002). Double Yoi!. Sports Publishing, L.L.C. p. 229. ISBN 1-58261-548-9.
  5. ^ Hecht, Steve (August 27, 2009). "Comedian Marty Allen part of Allderdice's first hall class". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  6. ^ Collins, Mark (September 1996). "Everything is Cope-aesthetic". Pitt Magazine. University of Pittsburgh. Archived from the original on December 30, 2006. Retrieved November 25, 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Terrible Towel Day Honors Cope". KDKA-TV. Associated Press. February 29, 2008. Archived from the original on April 2, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Myron Cope, ex-Steelers announcer, dead at 79". Erie Times-News. Associated Press. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  9. ^ a b c Cope, Myron (2002). Double Yoi!. Sports Publishing, L.L.C. ISBN 1-58261-548-9.
  10. ^ a b Gene Collier (February 27, 2008). "Obituary: Myron Cope's career spanned newspapers, magazines, radio and TV". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  11. ^ "Myron Cope". The Charleston Gazette. June 20, 1968.
  12. ^ a b Kevin Kirkland (November 4, 2006). "Yoi-cation is everything: Myron Cope, Frank Gustine Jr. downsized to Mt. Lebanon". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  13. ^ a b c d Alan Robinson. "Steelers' former radio announcer Myron Cope dies at 79". Yahoo! Sports, via Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2008.
  14. ^ a b c Allegheny Valley School (February 27, 2008). "Allegheny Valley School Mourns the Loss of Myron Cope". Allegheny Valley School. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  15. ^ "Myron Cope, 79, Long-time Color Analyst". Pittsburgh Steelers. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2009. He then took over a nightly talk show on the station in 1973.
  16. ^ "Myron Cope". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  17. ^ "Popular Cope expressions, or Cope-isms". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. February 28, 2008. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2008.
  18. ^ "'He hit heaven's gate at full sprint': Steelers great Tunch Ilkin dies at 63".
  19. ^ "Myron Cope". Steelers Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved April 20, 2008.
  20. ^ "Myron Memories". Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  21. ^ Goldstein, Richard (February 29, 2008). "Myron Cope, 79, Writer and Steelers Broadcaster, Is Dead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  22. ^ "Myron Cope, father of Terrible Towel, dies". Baltimore Sun. February 27, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  23. ^ Nesbitt, Stephen J. "Myron Cope and Dan Snyder: Inside the feud". The Athletic. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  24. ^ DeWitt, Nick (April 29, 2009). "The End of Double Yoi: Without Myron Cope, Steeler Football Hasn't Been the Same". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  25. ^ "Myron Memories". February 28, 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  26. ^ Nesbitt, Stephen J. "Myron Cope and Dan Snyder: Inside the feud". The Athletic. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  27. ^ Beschloss, Michael (June 19, 2015). "Clemente, the Double Outsider". The New York Times.
  28. ^ a b KDKA (February 27, 2008). "Myron Cope Was A 'Pittsburgh Original'". CBS Broadcasting. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  29. ^ a b "Former Steelers broadcaster, Terrible Towel creator Cope dies". ESPN. Associated Press. February 28, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
  30. ^ "Mission & History". Allegheny Valley School. Archived from the original on February 26, 2006. Retrieved October 28, 2008.
  31. ^ Dvorchak, Robert (August 30, 2009). "The 'Terrible Towel' that changes lives". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  32. ^ "Cope also created Terrible Towel". AP. June 21, 2005. Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  33. ^ a b "Steelers' Cope named 2005 Rozelle Award winner". Pro Football Hall of Fame. June 28, 2005. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  34. ^ Robert Dvorchak (November 1, 2005). "Cope officially throws in towel". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
  35. ^ Richard Goldstein (February 29, 2008). "Steelers' Myron Cope, 79, Writer and Steelers Broadcaster, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2008.
  36. ^ "Pitt plans Cope tribute". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 27, 2008. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  37. ^ Moriah Balingit (February 29, 2008). "Hundreds join Terrible Towel wave in memory of Cope". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  38. ^ a b Smizik, Bob (March 2, 2008). "Cope was beloved, and he loved right back ... a commentary". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  39. ^ Donald K. Yeomans (June 12, 2008). "7835 Myroncope (1993 MC)". JPL Small-Body Database Browser.
  40. ^ Gigler, Dan (June 12, 2008). "And it will land on Cleveland ..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 12, 2008.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]