- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

I guess Dan Snyder's control over the media doesn't extend beyond the Beltway at least not to Pittsburgh.

According to Myron Cope, the longtime voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, someone in the Redskins hierarchy tried to censor the Steelers announcer while he was poking fun at the Redskins during the broadcast of Saturday's 24-3 Pittsburgh victory.

Cope, a colorful broadcaster who invented the idea of the "Terrible Towel" during the Steelers' heyday, was calling the last game at Three Rivers Stadium the Steelers move to a new facility next year and having fun at the Redskins' expense.

During the game, he referred to the Redskins as the "Washington Redfaces," insinuating that the franchise should be embarrassed by their performance this year, given the resources they had. "They are the Redfaces," Cope said in an interview yesterday. "[Snyder] has a $100 million payroll, and he can't win a game."

According to Cope, during a commercial break in the second half of the game his producer told him they got a complaint about the reference. "My producer said to me he had been told by a Washington representative, whether PR or whoever, that 'Our people want you to cease calling them the Redfaces.' I said to my producer, 'You're kidding, aren't you?' and he said, 'No, I'm serious.' I asked him three more times. I couldn't believe it. I said, 'You've got to be kidding.' I realized he was serious.

"When we came back on the air, I said, 'You won't believe this,' " Cope said. "I proceeded to tell everyone the message I had been given. I said if the boy billionaire thinks he can shut me up, he can go stick his head in a can of paint. That's what I said on the air."

If only the camera was on Snyder when he heard that.

"I also stated that in the 31 years that I broadcast the Steeler games, not once have the Steelers told me I can't say something or should knock off doing something, and I have criticized ownership a number of times over the years," Cope said. "No visiting team has ever done this either, and I've been calling the Cincinnati Bengals the Cincinnati Bungles for 20 years. When I've run into Mike Brown, he's been very cordial."

Not only did Cope not stop, he went out of his way to say "Redfaces" as much as he could, and his partners in the booth, Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin, started as well.

"Once I got the word from Snyder, I tripled, or at least increased the frequency of calling them the Redfaces, and my partners joined in," Cope said.

Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson confirmed the incident but denied Snyder had anything to do with it.

"Our sensitivities to in-game protocol have been raised significantly this season [referring to the $20,000 fine the club received for the public address announcer's declarations of 'Ravens Suck' during their Oct. 15 game against Baltimore at FedEx Field]," Swanson said. "We were unaware of Cope's style of broadcasting and that he has nicknames for many teams like calling the Bengals the Bungles.

"[Snyder] was completely unaware of it until long after the game, and he was not particularly happy that someone had gone into the other team's broadcast booth, just as he wouldn't be happy if someone from a visiting team entered the booth with [Redskins radio announcers Sonny Jurgensen, Sam Huff and Frank Herzog]. Someone took it upon themselves, and they have been spoken to."

Cope wasn't buying it. "I don't imagine Snyder's underlings go around doing something like that without direction," he said. "From what I understand, this is the way he does business. He seems to be a little autocratic."

Snyder is also a lot clueless if he had anything to do with this. It's hard to believe that someone who works for Snyder would be either stupid or bold enough to do this. No one puts a stamp on a letter at Redskin Park without his approval.

Cope said this isn't the first nickname he had for a Redskins team. "Back into the 1970s, I called them the Washington Dirtyskins because that was when George Allen coached them and brought in all those veterans," he said. "After a play, they would find a guy on his hands and knees and deliberately step on his fingers. In good humor I called them the Washington Dirtyskins."

There isn't much good humor for the Washington Redskins these days.

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