Judge John Hodgman Episode 48: The Wonderful, Terrible, Terrible Towel Trouble


Bobby and Katie are dating and like many young couples are at odds over towels. But unlike most domesticated disputes of the household variety, these towels serve a higher, almost divine purpose. To their fans, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a place amongst the heavens - the most memorable play in Steelers history is called the Immaculate Reception! Just as the many religions of the world have their own iconography, so too does Steeler Nation in the form of the “Terrible Towel.”

Bobby has become a Steelers fan within the past year and a half he’s been dating Katie. Bobby purchased a towel (the proceeds go towards an autism charity) and feels that once it’s yours and the money has gone on the charity, you are free to do what you want with it. He also asserts that his love for the Pittsburgh Steelers is no less than those ordained from birth.

Katie, being born into the Steeler family, has the utmost respect and pride for the Towel. She offers that the towel is more than a foam finger or a pom-pom, and that the towel and the history of the franchise are one in the same. Its disrespect in any way is an affront to the team and the charity it supports.

So, should the towel be treated as a weaving of fabrics meant to absorb liquids or as a sacred object of one of football’s most historic franchises? Only one man has the secular fortitude to decide on the next Judge John Hodgman!



From Bobby
Bobby is a Steelers Fan

From Katie
Myron Cope discussing the history of the Terrible Towel

Steelers Fans (and players) waiving the towel around the world

A Jingle that talks about the Terrible Curse


Cope Impression

Man, that was dead on. Uncanny.

Deathly Hallows.

Two tickets, two DVDs.
Two movies.

Deathly Hallows= two movies!

Furthermore, the films were experienced by theater viewers as two distinct experiences. The screenwriter and director had to adapt the book into two different dramatic structures, with beginning, middle, and end.

Evidence in support: Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I and II are part of the same biographical story, and often performed in repetory, but are counted as two plays.

Wrong fight song?

Wasn't the Honorable Judge mistaken in his identification of the tune he sang at the beginning of the show? For the record, I believe it was the tune to "Bulldog, bulldog, bow wow wow, Eli Yale," and not "Boola Boola."

I say this as an alumna of Saybrook College who went to exactly three football games as an undergraduate. I now live in Pittsburgh, still do not attend football games, but have learned to respect the passion of Steeler Nation. I understand the Honorable Judge's reasoning, and while disappointed, can accept it.

I would like to hear Judge John Hodgman sing, "Boola, Boola." Perhaps when he visits Pittsburgh?

Judge John Hodgman makes the right call

As a Cleveland Browns fan, I have no issue with the ruling. I have respect for each football teams traditions, but damn it people it's a freaking towel! Get over it!

If I am permitted to file an Amicus Curie brief, I would like to include some factual information:

The Cleveland Browns were named for Paul Brown, who was a very winning football coach in Massillon, Ohio. He later went on to found the Cincinnati Bengals and the stadium which they play at is named in his honor... for more information about Paul Brown see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Brown

One additional side note - the Indianapolis Colts, which we heard in this case moved from Baltimore, MD in 1984(which is where the Cleveland franchise moved to before they restarted in the early 00's) - prior to being in Baltimore, the Colts were the New York Yanks, and prior to this the Dayton Triangles (from beautiful Dayton, Ohio (really, it's pretty - come visit!)) so actually Ohio has a rather strong part of this case... for more information on the Dayton Triangles see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dayton_Triangles

Terrible Towel decision leads to Spiteful Reubke from Jesus


It was clear that your Terrible Towel decision was handed down before Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime in the finale of Wild Card Weekend. Can you be certain that your decision to allow the desecration of the Terrible Towel did not directly contribute to this most unlikely of outcomes?

Will the court allow an appeal? Further, please refrain from any future decisions that might effect my Philadelphia Eagles. They and their fans have suffered enough without the help of activist judges like you.


Matt Gianquinto
Hartford CT

Being a Yale educated jurist,

Being a Yale educated jurist, I would expect Judge Hodgman to be familiar with the ripeness doctrine. Additionally, assuming arguendo that harm to the towel equates to harm to the team, would not the Steeler's organization have standing to bring this suit? Applying this metric, in what personal capacity has Katie been personally harmed?