Forget purple towels – Ravens fans need to wave purple thongs

November 30, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

As if the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town this weekend wasn't already making people nuts, now there's another monumental civic controversy to consider: Should Ravens fans wave those goofy purple towels or what?

You've heard about the purple towels, of course.

The Ravens will be handing out more than 71,000 of them as fans enter M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday evening.

The idea is to have fans dress in purple and wave purple rally towels to fire up the team and look good for the NBC cameras.

It's something the Ravens have done before, with varying degrees of success, depending on whom you ask.

But a lot of Ravens fans aren't too crazy about waving towels of any kind.

They think it's lame. And they think it smacks too much of what Steelers fans do with those Terrible Towels.

And I'm inclined to agree with them.

Me, I'd rather see Ravens fans do something more original for this game. Like, I don't know, break out purple vuvuzelas to annoy the heck out of the Steelers.

Or wave purple thongs -- hey, the whole thong thing worked for Aubrey Huff and the San Francisco Giants, didn't it?

And can't you see the network announcers trying to describe that in the opening segment, right after the obligatory stadium shot from the blimp? ("Bob, it looks like the fans are waving … I don't know, are those some sort of undergarments we're seeing out there?")

OK, maybe I didn't think the whole thong thing through.

For one thing, where are you going to get 71,000 thongs on such short notice?

And maybe the whole business of waving thongs would be a little too much for the uptight and image-conscious NFL.

Look, league honchos get all squirrely when a player wears his socks too low. Or when he wears the wrong T-shirt in pre-game warm-ups.

So a stadium full of thong-waving fans -- well, they'd have a cow over that one.

But the point is, the whole towel-waving thing is so associated with the Steelers that the Ravens look like copycats whenever they resort to this stunt.

Still, the fact that this has even become an issue -- just tune in to talk radio or check out the fan message boards if you don't believe me -- shows how passionate Ravens fans are about any game with the Steelers.

"I know the fans I come across, they talk about this game all the time," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "It seems like it's the most important game to Ravens fans. They're our archrival, and I don't know what more you need to say than that.

"It's a very intense game. It's a very physical game. It's a little bit different than the other games we play. We love playing them. We look forward to it. We can't wait to line up."

And Ravens fans can't wait for the game to get here, either. Are you kidding? A battle of two bitter rivals -- both at 8-3 -- for first place in the AFC North? That's right out of central casting.

Here's another thing to think about if you're actually going to the stadium Sunday night: The weather might be miserable.

And I mean good miserable, at least for this showdown.

Right now the forecast is for temperatures in the low 30s. And there's a decent chance it might rain, too.

Which will only make the whole scene at the Bank even more intense and surreal.

Cold, wet players and cold, wet fans are a combustible combination. It ratchets up the orneriness levels all around. Especially when you factor in the 8:20p.m. start, which gives a certain segment of the fan base plenty of time to get even more beered-up than usual.

That's why I'm not sure you want to bring your 80-year-old grandma to this game.

Not unless Granny doesn't mind hearing a lot of colorful language. Or seeing some especially graphic hand-signaling between Ravens and Steelers fans.

One thing's for sure: Whether Ravens fans wave those purple towels or not, the noise level will be through the roof.

"It's Pittsburgh and it's at our place, and we'll have our fans fired up for the game," Harbaugh said. "We're hoping they get there early and they're very loud."

He doesn't have to worry about the loud part. The Bank isn't a dome and it doesn't produce the ear-bleeding decibel levels of an indoor game.

But it holds the noise well and when you consider it's a night game, a national TV game and the higher-than-usual Budweiser quotient, as I like to call it, the place will be rocking.

Four more days until the big game.

Even without thongs, it should be a good one.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.)

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