Waving 'Terrible Towels' at FedEx, Steelers Fans Felt Right at Home

By George Solomon
Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's Dallas Week, of course, and the big question marks hanging over Landover -- besides Clinton Portis's left knee and Tony Romo's pinkie -- for tonight's game between the Redskins and Cowboys is how many fans in Dallas jerseys will infiltrate FedEx Field?

Redskins players and fans expressed shock at the thousands of Pittsburgh fans waving gold "Terrible Towels" at FedEx Field during the Nov. 3 game won by the Steelers, 23-6.

In 39 years of watching the Redskins play football in this area -- at RFK Stadium and since 1997 in Landover -- I'd never seen the team's field taken over by visiting fans as it was that night.

Every year, several thousand fans show up for the Dallas-Washington game in Cowboys regalia, having purchased tickets off the Internet or, in the old days, from classified ads and scalpers outside RFK Stadium, near the statue of George Preston Marshall.

Still, their presence was hardly noticeable, which is why late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke could call his crowd "the best bloody fans" in football.

"It was unusual," Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff said of the bizarre scene two weeks ago. Huff, who came to the Redskins in 1964 in a trade from the New York Giants, has been a broadcaster and commentator since his retirement in 1969 and close observer of the Redskins' scene for nearly 45 years.

"Those 'Terrible Towels' and general rowdiness of the Steeler fans was something I'd rarely seen here," Huff said.

"In my day, women who went to pro football games wore fur coats. Now they wear football jerseys and wave towels. Who painted their faces like they do today? No one."

I asked one woman in a Steelers jersey on the Metro heading for the stadium that day if she was concerned about being hassled by Redskins fans. "Are you kidding?" she said. "Anyone hassles me, I'll slug 'em."

So much for small talk.

"Today's fans have no respect for anyone," Huff said. "They show up three or four hours before the game and start drinking in the parking lot. The last time I watched a game in the stands, I almost decked a guy in front of me because he kept waving a towel in my face. I asked him to stop, and he and his wife told me to back off. So I say, 'Wave that towel in my face one more time and I'm decking you.'

"He stopped waving the towel."

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