How many Pittsburgh Steelers players have had their jerseys retired?
Running back Franco Harris will join a select group of Steelers players to have their numbers retired, along with Joe Greene and Ernie Stautner.
One of the most eagerly awaited games of the 2022 NFL season is the match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Las Vegas Raiders on 24 December at the Acrisure Stadium: the 50th anniversary of Franco Harris’ “immaculate reception.”
The Steelers are planning a special tribute to Harris during the game, the franchise having taken the decision to retire the number 32 in honor of the legendary running back.
“At halftime of the Steelers-Raiders game, we will retire Franco’s number 32. I would say it’s a late retirement because of Franco’s contributions to the team,” explained Steelers owner Art Rooney II.
In Rooney’s view, Harris’s reception during the first round of the 1972 playoffs marked a seismic change in the history of the franchise.
Harris and the “immaculate reception”
With 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, on fourth down and 10 from the Steelers’ 40-yard line and with the score 7-6 in favor of the Raiders, Terry Bradshaw sent a hail mary in the direction of Frenchy Fuqua. The Steelers RB was unable to make the catch due to a crunching hit from Jack Tatum, but it fell into Harris’s hands before it hit the turf and he made it to the end zone to give Pittsburgh the win.
“This is the 50th anniversary of one of the most memorable plays in NFL history, which dare I say changed the fate of the franchise. My grandfather used to say, ‘Before Franco we didn’t win, now we don’t lose,’” said Rooney.
From 1933, when the team was founded, to 1971, Harris’ final season in Pittsburgh, the Steelers had only managed a winning record in seven seasons and had never won a game in the playoffs.
Harris joins Greene and Stautner
Harris will now join a select group of Steelers players to have their numbers retired, along with Joe Greene and Ernie Stautner. Greene was part of the ‘Iron Curtain’ that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. For his part, Stautner was a Steeler for 14 seasons and is also a Hall of Famer.