Terrapin shell game is over

Phew! The creator of the `Fear the turtle' slogan is identified.

March 29, 2001|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUN STAFF

Finally, our long regional nightmare is over.

Yesterday, after seeing a report in The Sun, a Timonium man stepped forward to take credit for dreaming up "Fear the turtle," the slogan that has become a rallying cry for University of Maryland basketball fans this season.

His name is Drew Elburn. He's 32 and works for a computer consulting firm in Baltimore. And no, he didn't go to school at College Park - he attended Washington College.

Elburn said he thought up the slogan three years ago as he and some friends drove to the MCI Center in Washington to watch the Terrapins play Stanford.

They made some signs with "Fear the turtle" penned in black felt pen. Elburn says he held one up during the game and the TV cameras picked it up. Suddenly, he found himself on the arena's Jumbotron screen.

"People started hooting and hollering," he said. "Then my cell phone starts ringing and people are telling me [broadcaster] Dick Vitale saw me and now he's screaming `Fear the turtle, baby!' "

Elburn says his lawyer friends convinced him he had a hot property, so he had the phrase registered with the U.S. Patent Office. He then began making up T-shirts with the slogan, and even sells them to this day in local bars.

And he said he's thrilled to see how much play "Fear the turtle" is getting on TV and radio, and among Maryland fans, as the Terps head to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in Minneapolis this weekend.

"It's wild," he said. "People call me constantly just to [say] it."

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