The central figure of a legendary moment in Steelers history is obtaining his due.
Pittsburgh will retire Franco Harris’ No. 32 at halftime of the team’s Week 16 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, the team declared Tuesday.
“I am thrilled we are going to honor Franco with this recognition by retiring his No. 32 jersey,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “This is the 50th anniversary of one of the most memorable plays in NFL history; one that changed the course of our success with his ‘Immaculate Reception’ in 1972. My grandfather was once quoted as saying: ‘Before Franco got here, we didn’t win much; Since he got here, we don’t lose.’ I think that sums it up pretty good.
“Franco’s impact on the franchise would be hard to overstate. That is why I think it is fitting and appropriate that we recognize Franco’s remarkable career by retiring his Number 32 at our game on December 24.”
The setting – – a Christmas eve prime-time game in Pittsburgh against the Raiders broadcasting on NFL Network – – is fitting for retiring the number worn by a pillar of the franchise. Pittsburgh was a modest club in its initial years, however partook in a dependable shift toward authenticity beginning with the appearance of lead trainer Chuck Noll, guarded lineman Joe Greene, quarterback Terry Bradshaw and Harris. The remainder of that gathering made the main catch in Steelers history to that point, grabbing a diverted pass from the little space staying between his hands and the Three Rivers Stadium turf and taking it for a game-dominating score to move the Steelers past the then-Oakland Raiders to the AFC Championship Match.
However its authenticity is as yet addressed today, the play was so huge, a sculpture portraying Harris getting the pass welcomes explorers who show up at Pittsburgh International Airport. It is inseparable from the ascent of the Steelers and both their remaining in Pittsburgh and the NFL.
The Steelers proceeded to lose to the undefeated Dolphins in the meeting title game, however the triumph remained as Pittsburgh’s first postseason win in establishment history. From that point, the Steelers turned into the predominant group of the 1970s, winning four Super Bowls somewhere in the range of 1974 and 1979. As transmissions promoted the game, Pittsburgh turned into a successive focal point of NFL inclusion across the United States, and the dedicated, enthusiastic Steeler Nation was conceived.
It’s reasonable to contemplate whether any of that occurs without Franco’s rationale challenging score gathering. He surely procured his place in Steelers history, and decades after retiring, the franchise will respect him in like manner.