A Titans History Lesson: The Curse of the Terrible Towel

A Titans History Lesson: The Curse of the Terrible Towel

The following is a brief summary on the Curse of the Terrible Towel and links sources at the time of the incident.

The Tennessee Titans have a unique history with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ terrible towel.  In 2008, the Titans started the season 10-0 for the first time in franchise history.  They finished the year 3-3 in their last six games and ultimately lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to long-time rival Baltimore Ravens.

After that 2008 season, the Titans wouldn’t see the playoffs for another decade.  There were sound and logical reasons for the falloff, but what became known as the curse of the terrible towel made its rounds on the internet for years to come. Some fans still blame the stomping of the towel for the abysmal seasons that followed.

What happened?

Keith Bulluck explained his version of the story to the guys at A-Z Sports last season.  In week 16 of that season, the Titans hosted a big game against the steelers.  The Titans came up victorious, and seeled home-field advantage in the playoffs.  At the end of the game, Keith Bulluck got one of the terrible towels from the stands and proceeded to throw it on the ground and stomp on it.  He was joined by then-teammate Lendale white.  The incident gained traction nationwide.  To the point that head coach Jeff Fisher was asked about it in a press conference.

How Did the Steelers Take it?

The Steelers fan base wasn’t happy, unsurprisingly.  So much so that as of 2020, they still write about the incident on local blog sites.  At the time, it wasn’t just the Steelers faithful that were perturbed.  The New York Times actually wrote a piece defending the incident from the Titans point of view. It caused a big stir in the media, and Lendale White went on record saying he would do it again.  The disrespectful action and the unsuccessful campaigns from the Titans afterward gave credence to the media and fan created phrase, “The curse of the Terrible Towel.”

Did the Titans Show Remorse?


What Happened After the Stomping of the Towel?

As mentioned before, the Titans really did spiral into an awful decade of football following the stomping of the terrible towel.  They wouldn’t make the playoffs again until the 2017 season and didn’t surpass the 9-7 record mark until the 2020 season.  The “curse” held its legacy nicely for a long time, and some Titans fans still mention it when discussing the troubles of the early to mid-2010s. Ultimately, the Titans became a poorly run franchise in the years that immediately followed.  The curse is a nice scapegoat, but bad football is bad football.  Thank goodness we’ve moved on.

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