Ravens running back Ray Rice became a target of criticism, and an even more unpopular figure as far as the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans are concerned, when he wore a Terible Towel on his head while walking off the field Sunday night following a 13-10 victory.
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley even chided Rice on Twitter: "Bad idea ray just ask lendale white and tj whosyourmama," and, "If youre not a steelers fan, dont put your hands on a terrible towel."
It was a reference from Woodley to T.J. Houshmandzadeh wiping his shoe with a Terrible Towel after a touchdown in a win for the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field, and Titans running back LenDale White and linebacker Keith Bulluck stepping on a Terrible Towel during a win in Pittsburgh.
Rice said he intended no disrespect by wearing the towel, which he traded his gloves for with a Steelers fan.
"I actually asked a fan to trade like I've been trading jerseys with guys at the end of the game," Rice said. "So, I didn't stomp it or do anything wrong. I actually walked out with it and I think I'm going to save it and put it in my basement to cherish the rivalry. It's not like you get out there and do derogatory stuff and spit, no none of that stuff. If you think about it, where I'm at in my career, you cherish these rivalries, cherish the moments.
"I apologize to those who saw it as disrespectful. For me, I thought it was a pretty cool gesture, exchanging my gloves with a fan and walking out with it. Obviously, getting a victory there was cool and I leave it in the past. Their fans are great, the organization is great and the rivalry is always going to continue to be great. To have something in your basement to know what the rivalry is all about is pretty cool I've been exchanging jerseys with guys. My basement is geting pretty colorful down there with other teams' stuff. [Having the towel was] not maliciously, just more out of respect."
Rice acknowledged that he can see why the Steelers were upset.
"The other side, they don't really like it, which I understand why like, 'Nobody plays with the Terrible Towel,' and I understand that," Rice said. "I respect this rivalry. I respect their organization. It's not like you're going to catch me on YouTube burning a Terrible Towel. I'll keep it in my basement and when I get to grow up and my time is done you get to look back on these moments: 'I got to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers.' This has actually been the first year I've started to collect other teams' stuff."