Steelers Fans Lose Favorite Shirt - By Kirk Holliday

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Have you ever lost your favorite shirt? Did your favorite television show ever get cancelled? Did your favorite local bar or restaurant ever close down? Well if you've ever experienced any of the above, the first reaction to such a change is usually not to try to replace what you lost.

Some things are just irreplaceable. You're left only with the hope that another "favorite shirt" will come along one day. You can only hope that another television show will entertain you as much as the one you once anticipated so much each week. You can only pray that the new owners of your favorite bar or restaurant won't ruin the memories you had there somehow. Things such as a "favorite shirt", a "favorite television show", or "a favorite hangout" cannot be forced, but rather they develop naturally. Would you decide to watch a show, and beforehand deem that show would be your favorite show for the next 5 years? I didn't think so.

No one person decided 35 years ago that former Steelers Radio Color Analyst Myron Cope would be the legend he became. But 35 years later, there is no denying this status.

Now with his recent retirement, it's almost as if the whole city of Pittsburgh, as well as anyone else capable of tuning in to Steelers Radio Broadcasts has lost its favorite shirt, saw it's favorite television show suddenly cancelled, and watched it's favorite hangout go out of business, all at once. The first reaction is shock, followed by a little bit of selfish anger, then perhaps a bit of depression, and finally capped off by a gapping hole in your routine.

It's obvious that a hole like this can't be filled by juggling through the resumes you've kept filed away in your cabinet for the last year or so, and making a few phone calls. Television and radio executives aren't always quick to realize this, and over the past fifteen or so years there have been some feeble attempts put forth to entertain the sports fans of America (i.e. Dennis Miller's stint as color analyst for Monday Night Football). Luckily enough for Steelers fans there will be no former comedians making off-the-wall references to Greek Philosophers to appear intelligent and witty, sitting next to Bill Hillgrove or Tunch Ilkin in the booth this year.

"I really admire the people that made the decision not to replace him, because he's irreplaceable," Hillgrove told me.

Hillgrove, who is entering his 37th season as the University of Pittsburgh's play-by-play announcer for football and basketball, and his 12th year in the same position for the Steelers, knows things aren't going to be the same. "It's going to be different. We're not going to kid anybody. It's not going to be the same. He brought a rare enthusiasm and a funny way of looking at life. He could make mundane things humorous and we're not even going to try to go there because we're going to try and be ourselves. The fans are going to miss him, we're going to miss him, and I'm sure he's going to miss the whole process."

Former Steelers offensive lineman, and current Steelers Radio color analyst, Tunch Ilkin, seems as if he was just informed by his favorite local restaurant owner that he wouldn't be able to stop in for coffee the next day, due to the establishment's closure. "When he told me the night before the press conference, I was just like, 'well I'm sorry to hear that. That was just the first thought that came to mind," Ilkin said somberly.

No changes in format are "etched in stone" according to Hillgrove or Ilkin, but with regards to "Cope's Cabana", the post-game radio show hosted by the legend, Tunch can't really see how it could be replaced. "It was 'Cope's Cabana'. Could you do it any other way? One of the things that showed me that you wouldn't want to, was that when Myron wasn't at the cabana, there weren't a lot of people there. They came to see Myron. He was a folk hero. There's only one Myron Cope."

When you think back in your life, it's hard to come up with a lot of "favorite shirts" you've had, or television shows that made you change your schedule just so you could be in front of the television set when they came on, or restaurants or bars that felt like a second home. I can only hope that I can hear and see a folk hero of Cope's magnitude in Pittsburgh's broadcast booth again during my lifetime. But one things for sure, when ever I'm older and looking back on life, the thought of Myron Cope's raspy voice and catch phrases will put a smile on my face just as the memories of my favorite shirts, television shows, and bars and restaurants will.

Former Steelers offensive lineman and current Radio-On-Field-Correspondent, Craig Wolfley said it best I think. "You cannot replace that guy. You just simply have to go on."