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Thread: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

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    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    I'm not a Steelers' fan by any stretch of the imagination...I'm not even a Bengals fan - but Myron Cope was hilarious to listen to.....but, every "hometown broadcasting legend" has to go at some point.



    Cope quits; admits he's lost his edge
    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    He has a gargle-with-gravel voice that clangs of vaudevillian shtick rather than the polished prose of his writings. He isn't much taller than a Lombardi Trophy. He has a face made for radio. Yet Myron Cope is as synonymous with the Steelers as anyone not named Rooney.

    But plagued by health woes that hoarsened his voice and neutralized his once lightning-quick insights, Cope has thrown in the towel after 35 years as the color analyst on Steeler broadcasts. No more yoi and double yoi, you betcha, hmm-hah and Zounds. The Steeler Nation will be farklempt on game days this fall.

    "I'm done, folks," Cope, 76, said in a scratchy, weakened voice.

    At a news conference yesterday, Cope couldn't hear well enough to determine where some questions were coming from. He also coughed a time or two, audible evidence of recent bouts of walking pneumonia and a throat condition that required surgery, not to mention the years of smoking and his taste for a toddy or two.

    But his anecdotes and one-liners filled the interview room at the Steelers offices with laughter in what turned out to be an appreciation for a uniquely Pittsburgh phenomenon.

    After some technical difficulties, Dan Rooney called from his vacation in Ireland to send his regards and wish Cope the best.

    "Myron always made it fun for everyone," Rooney said.

    Team president Art Rooney II presented Cope with a game ball from the last game he broadcast -- the AFC title game against the Patriots that ended in a disappointing defeat but set a record for the waving of Terrible Towels, a Cope creation.


    "Myron put color into color analyst," said Art Rooney, seated at Cope's right hand.

    To allow fans an opportunity to show their appreciation to the man who analyzed 35,000 plays, give or take a couple thousand, the Steelers are holding a Myron Cope Night on Monday, Oct. 31, Read into what you will that the date falls on Halloween.

    Most of the assembled media horde, which sat between eight TV camera tripods and Cope seated at a table, weren't born when Cope became a broadcast analyst in 1970, the year that Three Rivers Stadium opened. Those who remember Cope as a writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or Sports Illustrated could be counted on one hand.

    Despite episodes such as falling and suffering a concussion last November, Cope had intended to return to the booth this year, convinced that his voice therapy sessions would have him ready to go.

    But he had made a pact with Joe Gordon, the former director of media relations for the Steelers, that he would retire if he lost his edge. And Gordon paid a visit to Cope's home on Friday, June 10, with a very specific purpose in mind.

    That meeting went like this:

    "You've told me many times that if I ever detected you slipping in your broadcasts, I should tell you and you would retire. Well, last year, maybe the last couple of years, you started slipping. At times, your focus on the field wasn't right. Your health has affected your work," Gordon told him.

    Cope said he gave it about 10 seconds of thought, then replied: "That's that. I'm through."

    Cope insisted he was OK with the decision.

    "It takes a very special friend to tell you the truth when he knows it's going to hurt," Cope said. "He's absolutely right. I could see it in the tapes. There were situations in games involving the clock and strategy when I was shutting up. I wasn't sure of myself."

    It was Gordon who helped Cope get the job in the first place, even though Cope had never been trained in broadcasting.

    In 1970, the Steelers had moved from KDKA to WTAE because they felt they were playing second fiddle to the Pirates. Dick Stockton was lined up as the analyst, but he balked at sharing the play-by-play with the late Jack Fleming. When the job re-opened, Gordon recommended Cope, just as the Steelers were beginning their Super Bowl run.

    Cope never fit the mold of the corporate broadcaster with a perfect coif and melodious voice. But Steelers fans found it a must to tune into his shows before and after the games, or the radio talk show Cope had for nearly 22 years. It was a custom to turn down the sound on TV games and listen to Cope on the radio.

    "The reason he was so good was that nobody worked harder. Nobody cared more. And the reason he was slipping was he couldn't put in the prep time," Gordon said. "He had such high standards. He had such creativity. He survived in that jungle because he had respect for athletes, respect for coaches and respect for fans. In all the years he had the talk show, I never heard him insult a caller."

    And Cope has shoes that can't be filled, no matter what direction the broadcasts go in the future.

    "There will never be another Cope," Gordon said. "There's no cookie cutter here. There's only one Cope."

    Cope had a clownish side. He once did a parody of M.C. Hammer and did a video of the Macarena. At Christmas, he'd perform football-themed carols such as "Deck the Broncos, they're just Yonkos, fah-ga-ga-ga-gah, ga-ga-ga-gah."

    He's been published five times and is planning a sixth book during his retirement. Some of his books are sports classics, including "Broken Cigars," "The Game That Was," "Off My Chest" and his memoir "Double Yoi!" A profile he wrote of Howard Cosell in 1974 is being reprinted in an anthology by Sports Illustrated.

    Inevitably, the question was asked about how he wants to be remembered, and Cope responded with humor.

    "When I kick the bucket, there'll be a little story there that'll say, 'Creator of Towel Dead,' " he laughed.

    Turning serious, he added: "I made it as a writer. That's what I was trained to be, and that's what I wanted to be most. I had a gift for it. I would like to be remembered as a pretty decent writer. This is what was dear to me."

    At one point in the proceedings, Cope did a passable impression of coach Bill Cowher reading off player injuries, which was fitting in that Cowher proclaimed last year that "Myron is Pittsburgh."

    That led to a Cope moment.

    "Maybe some of you could deliver a message for me to Ben [Roethlisberger] and Tommy Maddox," Cope said. "Namely, if they still have a brain in their head, the brain God gave them, they'll take their motorcycles to the nearest bridge and push them off -- if for no other reason that they have 50-some teammates depending on them. And I don't know that that's ever crossed their minds."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Copeisms to remember:
    Part of the charm of Myron Cope was his ability to create phrases that stuck not only with him but with his listeners. Here are some well-known Copeisms:

    YOI: An expression to use when things are going bad.

    DOUBLE YOI: When things are going really bad.

    HMM-HAH: Signaling a pause or an end to the conversation with emphasis.

    OKLE DOKLE: Okay

    TODDY: A cocktail

    COPE-A-NUT: An honor bestowed on a particularly brilliant talk-show caller.

    DALLAS CRYBOYS: Dallas Cowboys

    WASH DIRTYSKINS: Washington Redskins

    WYCKY WACKY: Former Bengals Coach Sam Wyche

    CLEVE BROWNIES: Cleveland Browns

    BYE NOW: Goodbye

    HOW-DO: Hello

    EMPEROR CHAZ: Chuck Noll

    DUMB-KOPF: A not-too-bright person.


    Cope was not the first to use the term Cincinnati "Bungals," he only popularized it. It was coined by former Pittsburgh Press sports writer Glenn Sheeley.

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  3. #2
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    It would have been nice if the Nuxhall situation could have been handled as well as this one.
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    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R
    It would have been nice if the Nuxhall situation could have been handled as well as this one.
    That's a great point, Chip...but who in the Cincinnati organization would have went to Joe Nuxhall and said "Hey, Joe - Thanks for your years of service, but you seem to be slipping a bit and you ought to think about hanging it up?"

    Who has the guts to do that? More importantly, was Joe slipping?

    IMHO - (and hindsight is 20/20) I would have let Joe pull a Vin Scully - He could do all the home games, and road games that he chooses with Marty. The rest of the time, get a Johnny Bench or someone else that could have done the longer road trips.....

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    Quote Originally Posted by Heath
    That's a great point, Chip...but who in the Cincinnati organization would have went to Joe Nuxhall and said "Hey, Joe - Thanks for your years of service, but you seem to be slipping a bit and you ought to think about hanging it up?"

    Who has the guts to do that? More importantly, was Joe slipping?

    IMHO - (and hindsight is 20/20) I would have let Joe pull a Vin Scully - He could do all the home games, and road games that he chooses with Marty. The rest of the time, get a Johnny Bench or someone else that could have done the longer road trips.....
    John Allen evidently did just that and Joe got bent out of shape because of it.

    I don't know if you could say Joe was slipping since he's not been really good for the past few years.

    I don't think that would have been very fair to Steve Stewart. The guy moves all the way over here and then they tell him he can only do the road games Joe doesn't want to do.
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    I've listened to this guy call Steelers games a couple of times and he was brutal toward Cincinnati and the Bengals. Part of that Steelers superiority complex.

    Go Bengals!

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    C-A-T-S CATS! CATS! CATS! WVRed's Avatar
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    Quote Originally Posted by Heath

    Copeisms to remember:
    Part of the charm of Myron Cope was his ability to create phrases that stuck not only with him but with his listeners. Here are some well-known Copeisms:

    YOI: An expression to use when things are going bad.

    DOUBLE YOI: When things are going really bad.

    HMM-HAH: Signaling a pause or an end to the conversation with emphasis.

    OKLE DOKLE: Okay

    TODDY: A cocktail

    COPE-A-NUT: An honor bestowed on a particularly brilliant talk-show caller.

    DALLAS CRYBOYS: Dallas Cowboys

    WASH DIRTYSKINS: Washington Redskins

    WYCKY WACKY: Former Bengals Coach Sam Wyche

    CLEVE BROWNIES: Cleveland Browns

    BYE NOW: Goodbye

    HOW-DO: Hello

    EMPEROR CHAZ: Chuck Noll

    DUMB-KOPF: A not-too-bright person.

    Cope was not the first to use the term Cincinnati "Bungals," he only popularized it. It was coined by former Pittsburgh Press sports writer Glenn Sheeley.[/I]
    The Rush Limbaugh of Sports Radio.
    Quote Originally Posted by savafan View Post
    I've read books about sparkling vampires who walk around in the daylight that were written better than a John Fay article.

  8. #7
    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    Quote Originally Posted by Reds/Flyers Fan
    I've listened to this guy call Steelers games a couple of times and he was brutal toward Cincinnati and the Bengals. Part of that Steelers superiority complex.

    Go Bengals!
    I've listened to this guy call Steelers games a couple of times and he was brutal toward Cleveland and the Browns. Part of that Steelers Superiority complex.

    Go Browns!

    But hey, he's a homer for his team...and he better be behind his team 100%. I still respected his views and enjoyed listening to him...

  9. #8
    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R
    John Allen evidently did just that and Joe got bent out of shape because of it.

    I don't know if you could say Joe was slipping since he's not been really good for the past few years.

    I don't think that would have been very fair to Steve Stewart. The guy moves all the way over here and then they tell him he can only do the road games Joe doesn't want to do.
    That's where the Bad Boy wouldn't have been hired - they would have borrowed someone from the Clear Channel family and stuck him in there - or find someone who wanted to work part-time (That's why I thought Bench or Tracy Jones) on the longer road trips....

    The only thing that I can recall...I'm not that old...I don't remember a time when Joe had a "A" game broadcasting wise....That's not to say he was bad, per se, but he always made mistakes and he usually wised up to him .... To quote Joe - "I'll be alright"

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Myron Cope, Steelers Radio guy, retires

    Quote Originally Posted by Heath
    That's where the Bad Boy wouldn't have been hired - they would have borrowed someone from the Clear Channel family and stuck him in there - or find someone who wanted to work part-time (That's why I thought Bench or Tracy Jones) on the longer road trips....

    The only thing that I can recall...I'm not that old...I don't remember a time when Joe had a "A" game broadcasting wise....That's not to say he was bad, per se, but he always made mistakes and he usually wised up to him .... To quote Joe - "I'll be alright"
    Yeah but conventional wisdom is that Steve will eventually be Marty's replacement. Otherwise they would have hired some guy like Tracy Jones.

    Someone said that Joe was not only screwing up calls during games but he was screwing up sponsor spots and the Reds actually had to give back money to these sponsors because of Joe's foul ups. Joe used to be able to describe the action very well. He'd screw up every now and then but everybody does that. The last few years you couldn't trust Joe to get what was happening on the field correct. He'd miss basic information like if a run scored or not. And that's important when you are doing radio because you are the listener's eyes. The last few years Joe may have been better served to be a TV announcer because you don't have to rely on the announcer to get things correct when you have the picture before you.
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