Howls about towels make “Steelers week” more rabid

November 30, 2010 | Drew Forrester

the Ravens have distributed towels at a home game and, in fact, it won’t be the first time they did it for a Steelers home game.

But for some reason, this time feels different.

Don’t ask me why.

Maybe we’re all just “Pittsburgh’d out” around here.

But it just feels different.

The Ravens made an interesting and VERY valid point to me today when I asked them for a response to the issue of the towel give-away.

My question, mainly, was this: Is the towel give-away this Sunday about THE STEELERS or about the fact that the game is on NATIONAL TELEVISION?

“It’s more about being Sunday night on national television and giving the fans the opportunity to show how special they are to the huge audience,” says Ravens Vice President Kevin Byrne. “TV doesn’t capture the sound of the enthusiasm. It does capture what can be seen. Historically, our fans have leaped at opportunities like these and have been noted during these telecasts. We think that will happen again this Sunday.”

As much as I personally would rather NOT see the team give-away towels on Sunday night, I’ll go ahead and admit that Byrne’s response – and therefore, the position of the team – makes a lot of sense.

Noise in the stadium makes a huge difference in the game.

Noise in the stadium doesn’t do anything at all for the TV broadcast. If it gets too loud, they just lower the volume on the crowd mics that are placed throughout the venue.

But something VISUAL, like giving away towels, does LOOK appealing on TV and certainly goes a long way in establishing a fan base as energetic and “into the game”.

The Ravens didn’t just do this on a whim. Like I mentioned above, they’ve done it before, in fact. And they’re very much aware that some portion of the fan base will probably object to the towels on Sunday night.

But what portion?

5%? That’s 3,500 people.

10%? That’s 7,000 people.

If 10% of the folks look at the towels upon entering the stadium on Sunday night and say, “WTF? I’m not waving this thing around and acting like a Steelers fan”, that means 64,000 people WILL participate.

I think the Ravens will take a 10% hit on Sunday night if that’s what it comes down to.

The organization might have a hard time understanding what the big deal is about this whole “towel thing” and I will agree that on the surface, it looks like a very minor detail to be complaining about during the week of the biggest game of the season.

And if they were giving the towels out on a Sunday night against the Saints, I don’t think anyone would say a word about it.

But it’s the Steelers. And it’s Pittsburgh. For the last however many years, Baltimore sports fans have tried to differentiate themselves from “yinz dahn-tahn”.

We’re BETTER than you people up there in Pittsburgh.

That’s what we think.

And that’s why the game means so much in Baltimore on Sunday night. If the Ravens beat the Steelers on Sunday night, that means our football team is better than your football team and that also means our city is better than your city.

That’s how Baltimore thinks.

Pittsburgh might not feel that way about Baltimore — but that’s the way Baltimore feels about Pittsburgh.

And since we’re BETTER than Pittsburgh, we don’t need to do anything