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Podcast: Raiders and Steelers to honor Franco Harris in 50th anniversary of Immaculate Reception

Preview for Christmas Eve

Pittsburgh Steelers Franco Harris, 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs
Franco Harris, Immaculate Reception
Photo by Dick Raphael /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

This year’s Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers matchup on Christmas Eve is special for a couple of reasons. The game will come a day after the 50th anniversary of one of the most bizarre plays in NFL History, the Immaculate Reception, where Franco Harris’ 60-yard touchdown catch gave the Steelers a 13-7 win in the playoffs against the Raiders.

In the offseason, Pittsburgh made plans to honor Harris during their celebration of the iconic play by retiring his number. Now, with the news of the Hall of Famer’s passing earlier this week, Saturday’s game becomes even more special and significant.

The Immaculate Reception lives in infamy for Raiders fans, but on this week’s Behind Enemy Lines podcast, I asked Dave Schofield of Behind the Steel Curtain what the play and what Harris means to Steelers fans.

“Even when it happened, people didn’t realize, and still don’t understand, the historical significance of that play. Not only did that give the Steelers their first-ever postseason victory, [but also] that was the first-ever touchdown they scored in the playoffs. And they had been around since 1933. ...It started the fire, it showed that he franchise was making a turn...and it propelled them into four Super Bowls in six seasons.

“...Franco Harris is so much more than that play. His career and what he meant to that dynasty [are] so much more than people realize. ...And then he was so much more as a man than he was as a football player [with] what he has done for the city of Pittsburgh...and his passion for the city and for young people.

“Coach [Mike] Tomlin was talking about how [Harris] was on the same committee with his wife about various things around Pittsburgh. He was just an amazing man so it really is a heavy heart now with Steelers fans and the entire organization.”

A rundown of the episode and the full podcast can be found below.

Topics Discussed:

  • Immaculate reception and Harris’ legacy
  • Kenny Pickett’s growth as a rookie
  • Steelers’ leading receivers, Dionte Johnson and George Pickens
  • Comparing Pat Freiermuth from year one to year two
  • Has Najee Harris taken a step back this season?
  • Pittsburgh’s offensive line
  • Any signs of Cam Hayward slowing down?
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, one of the NFL’s best safeties
  • & more!

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