Steelers honor Franco Harris, cap emotional night with storybook comeback vs. Raiders

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PITTSBURGH โ€” Days after the death of Franco Harris shocked and mourned the city, the organization, and the entire football community, Steelers president Art Rooney II stepped into the riser for halftime ceremony and gave a variety of speeches. evoked emotion.

After 50 years (and one day) of dominating the world with Harris’ improbable catches, the Steelers are back in the same stadium as the Raiders they defeated on December 23, 1972. The “Immaculate Reception” match was played, and he stepped onto the field wearing his old jersey number, a cane and a wobbly knee. There was Joe Green. Mel Brandt. French Fukua. etc.

But Harris’ absence left a considerable and irreplaceable void.


‘Still unbelievable’: Fans honor Franco Harris with terrible towels, gold flowers

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” Rooney said. “The big man was supposed to be standing right next to me. I want to thank (Harris’ wife) Dana and (his son) Dok.

“It has been said that life brings sorrow. It is up to us to bring joy. Franco has brought us joy for 50 years.”

Harris’ No. 32 retirement ceremony went as originally planned, but with a dramatic shift in tone. What was supposed to be a celebration of Harris and all his accomplishments was instead a celebration of reflection and mourning as those closest to Harris and those who had never met him all continued to work through the first stages of renewed grief. It changed to the night of

Dana cried when Rooney presented Harris’ wife and son with the number 32 jersey. Rooney hugged her recently widowed footballer’s wife to comfort her, chanting “Franco! Franco! Franco!” Many of the fans who endured single-digit temperatures may have done so for the sole reason of respect for Harris. Meanwhile, members of the 1972 team stood up and waved the damn towel to pay their respects to their deceased teammates.

Harris may not have been physically present. But this was still his day from start to finish.

Pat Fry Elms, who had a special relationship with fellow Penn State fellow Harris, came up with the idea of โ€‹โ€‹wearing the number 32 jersey. Everyone from coach Mike his Tomlin to general his manager Omar his Khan to quarterback Kenny Pickett wore the style. During the pre-match introductions, defensive co-captain Cameron Hayward burst out of the tunnel with his huge 32nd Flag. And just before kickoff, the entire stadium held a moment of silence.

These little hat tips continued throughout the game. The Steelers installed a dummy snap on his count. Quarterback Kenny Pickett was “Franco! Franco!” live. NFL network microphone picked up cadencewhen Pickett pulled off a QB sneak on a crucial 4 and 1.

Other individuals, Hayward in particular, seemed to play possessed. Hayward racked up his two sacks and an extra loss his tackle, scrimmaged, broke a pass at his line, made a cheeky move in a stunt, and released Alex his highsmith into a sack.

โ€œI think for us it was just the tip of the iceberg in not just being a Steeler legend, but being a great man,โ€ Hayward said. โ€œA community person you can always count on. A guy I want to be my teammate even when I retire. Franco welcomed me with open arms while I was here.

“There are a lot of outstanding men who love him. ‘Mean’ Joe (Green).” Mel Brandt. countless others. Terry Bradshaw. Mike (Tomlin). all of them. myself. Nagy Harris. It’s been decades and decades, and we still care for the man who gave us so much. โ€

With their words and deeds, the Steelers paid tribute to more footballers than ever before. That would have been more than enough to honor one of the Steelers who was there.

Then the Steelers did another good job.

The Steelers trailed by four with just under three minutes remaining and got the ball 76 yards from the go-ahead touchdown they needed. In what Tomlin described as a “growth” game for the young Steelers offense, Pickett led Pittsburgh down the field.

With 46 seconds remaining, receiver George Pickens found a soft spot between two high safety points on the seam route. Pickett rifled it into a tight window from rookie to rookie for a touchdown.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr skipped one to his last chance. Cameron his Sutton reeled in the final interception with his 36 seconds left to take a memorable win.

“You have to keep the keel the whole match, but you know the scale of the game,” Pickett said. โ€œWe wanted to win[Franco Harris]. It’s safe to say that I’m going to keep Harris’s jersey.

It wasn’t a deflected pass that was caught and taken for a playoff game-winning touchdown. But the last-minute win and the fact that he produced a very similar 13-10 score certainly gave many the chills.



‘It’s part of him’: Man holding Immaculate Reception football won’t give it up

“Tonight we had a chance to be a part of Steeler history and we’re not going to take it lightly,” said Tomlin. “We are so grateful for the foundation that was laid by those who came before us. Men like this man’s jersey (Franco Harris) that I’m wearing here in Pittsburgh. We can enjoy the fruits of their labor every day, in terms of our standards of expectation and our relationship with our fan base.

“I want to honor[Franco Harris]his teammates, and all the men who have made black and gold before us.

(George Pickens and Kenny Pickett Photo: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

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