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Steelers players honor Franco Harris by wearing his jersey ahead of retiring late running back’s number

Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers entered Acrisure Stadium donning Franco Harris jerseys on Saturday before the franchise retires his number 32.

Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, where Harris caught a ball that bounced off fellow Steeler John Fuqua (or Raiders DB Jack Tatum, depending on who you ask) and took it to the end zone to help the Steelers win a playoff game against the then-Oakland Raiders.

The Steelers are retiring Harris’s number on Saturday, coinciding with the anniversary of the play, when they face the Las Vegas Raiders – sadly, Harris died unexpectedly earlier this week at 72.

Harris had two separate interviews just hours before he died and spoke about the Immaculate Reception and how excited he was for Saturday’s ceremony.

“Art [Rooney] broke the news to me. I was just totally taken by surprise,” Harris said to current Steeler Cam Hayward on his podcast about when he was told about his number retirement. “I said, ‘What an honor to have my jersey retired.’ And then all the connections to it. That we’re going to retire it on Dec. 24. And also a Raider game we’re going to retire it. I mean, it is an incredible honor. The third jersey in 90 years of Steelers football. And the first offensive player.”

Harris told Chris “Mad Dog” Russo that despite the play being 50 years old, “it feels brand new.”

Franco Harris (L) and John Fuqua #33, former running backs for the Pittsburgh Steelers, wave Terrible Towels before a game between the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 23, 2012, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Harris was a first-round pick of the Steelers in the 1972 NFL Draft out of Penn State. He was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year when he rushed for 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns. His prowess in the Steelers’ offense under legendary coach Chuck Noll quickly made him a big piece in the franchise’s dynasty.

In 2020, the play was celebrated as the greatest in the NFL’s 100-year history.

“That play really represents our teams of the ’70s,” Harris said at the time.

Running back Franco Harris #32 of the Pittsburgh Steelers plays carries the ball against the Denver Broncos circa mid 1970s during an NFL football game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Harris  played for the Steelers from 1972-83.

He would go on to play 13 years in the NFL — 12 with the Steelers and one with the Seattle Seahawks in 1984 before he retired. Harris was a nine-time Pro Bowler and was an All-Pro once.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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