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What is the ‘Immaculate Reception’, made famous by Franco Harris?

The former Pittsburgh Steelers running back, with a place in the Hall of Fame, died on Wednesday at the age of 72.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers running back, with a place in the Hall of Fame, died on Wednesday at the age of 72.
Bettmann ArchiveGetty Images

It was announced on Wednesday 21 December that the former running back of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Franco Harris, had passed away aged 72. As a Hall of Famer, he was regarded a legend of the team and tributes have flooded in on the back of the sad news.

Harris will be remembered for so much, both on and off the field of play, and one play in particular will live long in our memories of him.

Franco Harris and the ‘Immaculate Reception’

One of the most iconic plays in NFL history, it became known as ‘The Immaculate Reception,” and his untimely death comes just days before its 50th anniversary. It was a moment that is seen as the beginning of the transformation of the Steelers, taking them from minnows to one of the mightiest teams of the era. Watch it here, and the elation that follows.

Harris was a key figure in what would become the Steelers dynasty during the 1970s, with his 12,120 yards and, of course, the four Super Bowl rings he earned with the team. The most iconic moment, without a doubt, occurred during a last-second hail mary from then-quarterback Terry Bradshaw in a game against Oakland in 1972. Bradshaw scrambled back before throwing deep to running back French Fuqua with the Steelers trailing 7-6 and facing fourth-and-10 from their own 40 yard line with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Fuqua took an immediate hard hit, resulting in the ball popping up and heading toward Harris.

Almost everyone came to a halt at that point, except Harris, who snatched the ball from the air and charged toward the end zone. It was the Steelers’ first playoff victory in franchise history, and it will go down in NFL history.

“That play really represents our 1970s teams,” Harris said after the “Immaculate Reception” was voted the greatest play in NFL history for the league’s 100th anniversary season in 2020.

Find out more about the late, great Franco Harris.



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