Who knows if LenDale White has put his foot in his mouth? But White said Sunday that, given the chance, he won’t hesitate to put his foot on another Terrible Towel Thursday night at Heinz Field.
White was one of at least three Titans involved in last December’s Terrible Towel stomping incident after a 31-14 victory over the Steelers in Nashville.
When asked about the subject in preparation for the opening game, he did not mince words about the topic.
“I think we made it a lot more fun for this year,” White said. “With all that being said and everything we did last year, the towel stomping, whatever, it definitely made it fun in the setup for this year.”
NBC, which is showing the game nationally, has already picked up on the hype, showing White and linebacker Keith Bulluck’s antics in the aftermath of last year’s game in their pre-game promo ads.
And while Bulluck and Jevon Kearse are downplaying the incident leading into the game at Heinz Field, White isn’t backing off of what he did a year ago.
“If it happens to be there, I’m gonna stomp all over that mo –,” White said, cutting himself off before finishing the sentence with a profanity. “If there is a towel in the stands, I will stomp on it. I don’t care who gets mad. … If they throw a towel at me, I’m going to kick it and stomp on it. If you don’t want your towels [stomped], keep them out of my face.”
Asked about the atmosphere he and his Titans teammates will face because of the incident, White says, “It will be loud one, a loud, mean, evil one.”
While Bulluck received a taunting Terrible Towel and an anonymous note in February from a Steelers fan gloating about the team’s Super Bowl victory, White said fans are taunting him via Twitter.
“They talk about me every day on Twitter. They hate me,” White said. “They hate me, I can’t use ‘He Hate Me,’ they hate me, the whole world, no matter what I do. But they do love me. If they had me at running back, they’d love me, now. They wanted me at running back, that’s probably why they hate me now. They hate me because they love me. That’s what it is.”
White was even wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates hat on Sunday, but not, he said, for any purpose other than it matched his yellow earrings and black shirt.
While White continues to embrace the incident, Kearse said he has moved past the matter.
“I’m not even paying attention to that anymore. It happened. It’s in the past,” Kearse said. “That was last season. It happened last season, so what? If they want to use that as motivation, let them go ahead and use that as motivation. I mean, rah, rah, rah. We stomped on a towel, so what? That’s what we were supposed to do in our house.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger say that Towel-gate is over with.
"Our players won’t be worked up over that. We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about the ’08 season is in our past. It’s no different than the ‘74-‘75 Steelers for that matter,” Tomlin said. “We mean that. We take that approach to where we are. Although some of the guys are the same, last year’s history. Some of the things that maybe happened with opponents fall into the same category. I told some guys the other day maybe Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson did something when he played for the Oilers back in the day that could [tick] some people off, but that’s irrelevant, it’s history."
Roethlisberger was much more tight-lipped when talk of the towel came up in a conference call. About the strongest answer he would offer to media questions about the matter was this: “I think you guys are trying to make it an issue.”
Kearse, however, isn’t completely buying that the incident is over in Pittsburgh.
“We’re not worried about the fans, because the fans aren’t stepping on the field. We’re worried about the players themselves,” Kearse said. “We know they were [ticked] about it last year, and they’re going to be [ticked] about it this year. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve [ticked] ’em off, so we’ve just got to go up there now and back it up.”
Bulluck, who stirred the situation back up in June by showing off the towel and note he received from an anonymous Steelers fan is simply ready to move forward past any towel talk.
“I have respect for his game, first and foremost,” Bulluck said. “I would never go into another team’s stadium and disrespect something that obviously they hold so dear to them, a towel or whatever it would be.
“As far as that towel and all that nonsense, that’s what it is is nonsense. We had fun with it when it happened. We had fun a little bit this summer, and they’re teasing it for the game now. It’s all done. There’s nothing new with the towel.”
There might not be a towel involved, but Bulluck smiled and did say that if the Titans play well, he might have a trick or two up his sleeve for entertainment purposes only.
“Hopefully, we’ll play well enough on Thursday that you might see a little something. … It’s a new year and you make room for new things. I’m witty, so there’s no telling,” Bulluck said.