The Origins of the Terrible Towel and the Lambeau Leap

Super Bowl XLV will take place on Sunday, February 6th. It would take far too long to detail the long, storied history of both teams. So, in the interest of brevity – and to avoid the Super Bowl overdose that is surely on the way – let’s just take a look at the origins of two of their most famous game day traditions: The Terrible Towel and the Lambeau Leap.

The Terrible Towel

Steelers fans are among the most loyal and rabid fans in all of professional sports. And when they descend on downtown Pittsburgh clad in black and gold to cheer on their hometown team at Heinz Field, they don’t show up empty-handed. They bring towels.

The Terrible Towel was created by the late, beloved Pittsburgh sportscaster Myron Cope as a radio station promotion back in 1975. Even if you don’t like the Steelers, you can’t have anything but affection for Cope as he describes the way the tradition came about:

If that didn’t make you love him, here’s another part of the story, as detailed on the website of the Allegheny Valley School – an organization that provides care for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities:

In 1996, Myron Cope walked into Allegheny Valley School President and CEO Regis Champ's office and said, "Rege, I've got a gift for the school." He then handed over documents that gave the ownership of The Terrible Towel® trademark to Allegheny Valley School. From that day forward, the proceeds from the sale of any Terrible Stuff have come to Allegheny Valley School.

Why Allegheny Valley School?

"My son Danny, who was born brain-damaged and can neither speak nor otherwise function normally, has lived at Allegheny Valley School since 1982," Cope explained. "For my late wife Mildred and me, Allegheny Valley School was a Godsend. Danny is happy and is cared for with expertise, understanding and love."

As Pittsburgh fans pack up their Terrible Towels and get ready to head to Dallas to watch their team face off against the Packers in Super Bowl XLV, here’s an interesting twist they may not be aware of: The Terrible Towel (a “Pittsburgh Original” though it may be) is actually produced by McArthur Towel & Sports in Baraboo, Wisconsin – located just a few hours from Green Bay. The company's president is a big Packers fan.

The Lambeau Leap

The storied history of the Green Bay Packers is full of larger than life icons: Vince Lombardi, Super Bowls I & II, the “Frozen Tundra.” As if that weren’t enough, they are also the proud owners of the most famous touchdown celebration in football – the Lambeau Leap.

For a franchise established in 1919, the Lambeau Leap – which consists of a celebrating Packer player diving full-on into the Lambueau Field stands located through the back of the end zone – is a very new phenomenon. First performed in 1993 by Green Bay safety LeRoy Butler, the Lambeau Leap is now an indispensable part of the Pack’s home game experience.

Here is a brief description of the initial leap, taken from Butler’s website:

On December 26, 1993, the Packers were playing the visiting Los Angeles Raiders. On a second-down swing pass to running back Randy Jordan, Butler forced a fumble that was recovered by Reggie White at the Raiders' 35-yard-line. After running with the ball for 10 yards, White lateraled to Butler, who ran the remaining 25 yards into the end zone and then made a spontaneous leap into the arms of fans in the south bleachers. The Packers went on to win 28-0 to clinch what would be the first of six consecutive playoff berths.

For their part, the Packers encourage the practice – even labeling a section of the stadium the Lambeau Leap Zone. On their webpage dedicated to the area, they detail some of the tougher logistical challenges a Green Bay player may encounter while attempting it:

Some “leaps” are very graceful and flamboyant, while some are somewhat awkward with heavier players barely getting the loft to clear the barrier separating the field from the stands. At times slightly chagrined, but still festive, bulkier Packers have been “helped” into the stands by fans who tugged them up and over when the player couldn’t quite muster the feat unassisted.

Presented here, for the historical record, is the original Lambeau Leap:

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Bad Moods Might Make You More Productive
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iStock

Being in a bad mood at work might not be such a bad thing. New research shows that foul moods can lead to better executive function—the mental processing that handles skills like focus, self-control, creative thinking, mental flexibility, and working memory. But the benefit might hinge on how you go through emotions.

As part of the study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, a pair of psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Canada subjected more than 90 undergraduate students to a battery of tests designed to measure their working memory and inhibition control, two areas of executive function. They also gave the students several questionnaires designed to measure their emotional reactivity and mood over the previous week.

They found that some people who were in slightly bad moods performed significantly better on the working memory and inhibition tasks, but the benefit depended on how the person experienced emotion. Specifically, being in a bit of a bad mood seemed to boost the performance of participants with high emotional reactivity, meaning that they’re sensitive, have intense reactions to situations, and hold on to their feelings for a long time. People with low emotional reactivity performed worse on the tasks when in a bad mood, though.

“Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life,” one of the study’s co-authors, psychology professor Tara McAuley, said in a press statement. Why people with bigger emotional responses experience this boost but people with less-intense emotions don’t is an open question. One hypothesis is that people who have high emotional reactivity are already used to experiencing intense emotions, so they aren’t as fazed by their bad moods. However, more research is necessary to tease out those factors.

[h/t Big Think]

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

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