‘Immaculate Reception:’ In interview hours earlier than his loss of life, Franco Harris stated catch ‘blows my thoughts’


Fifty years after the “Immaculate Reception” and simply hours earlier than his loss of life, Franco Harris stated it “blows my mind” how he pulled off arguably probably the most memorable play in NFL historical past.

In a reside interview Tuesday on “Mad Dog Unleashed” on SiriusXM radio, Harris recalled December 23, 1972, when he caught a deflected cross simply earlier than it hit the bottom and ran for a playoff game-winning landing to guide his Pittsburgh Steelers over the Oakland Raiders.

Harris stated his task was to dam however he wound up going out for a cross when the fourth-down play broke down with 22 seconds left within the recreation.

“You know what, when I watch the film I can’t remember anything of the play past just leaving the backfield,” Harris advised host Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo. “But when I see the film, and I see it in real time, it just blows my mind how quick that is … And I have no idea how I reacted so quickly, and got it and kept in stride. And even looked up a little bit to try and get the lay of the land … I’m saying, ‘How did all that happen in just those few seconds?’ It didn’t make any sense. Like, I just don’t understand it.”

Harris died simply days earlier than the fiftieth anniversary of the catch, and the Steelers had deliberate to retire his No. 32 jersey throughout halftime of their recreation towards the Raiders on Saturday.

The NFL Community in 2019 named the Immaculate Reception the highest play within the 100 years of the league.

The play was not with out controversy: There have been no convincing replays to find out who deflected the ball when two opposing gamers collided and whether or not the ball truly hit the bottom when Harris caught it.

In the interview, Russo stated some consider that the nostril of the soccer hit the turf, “But you’re saying that’s not the case, correct?”

“I have no idea, I have no idea,” Harris stated. “I remember nothing. That’s what baffles me…”

Russo famous Harris was “a long way away from where the ball ricocheted.” If one other Steeler had touched the ball, Harris’ catch wouldn’t have been authorized.

“I have no recollection of seeing the ball at all,” Harris stated. “I have no visual of the ball. I have no recollection. But look at … how fast it came back.”

Harry Cabluck/AP

Wanting on the movie, Harris says, “I’m thinking that it could only have been” Raiders defender Jack Tatum “that the ball bounced off of” earlier than Harris made the shoestring catch. Tatum had collided with Steelers fullback Frenchy Fuqua.

In explaining how he made the play, Harris famous that he “always had great reflexes but you don’t practice stuff like this. … So it kind of blows my mind.”

The Steelers gained the sport 13-7 for the group’s first-ever playoff victory however misplaced their subsequent recreation. Nonetheless, the group went on to dominate the Seventies, profitable 4 Tremendous Bowls.

Russo, the host, opened the interview by asking, “How are you today, OK pal?” It was probably the final interview Harris did earlier than his loss of life was introduced on Wednesday. His explanation for loss of life was not supplied.

“Doing great. Fantastic,” Harris stated, although he was coughing right here and there. “And, like as you said, 50 years ago, and, and it still feels brand new.”

Harris then went on to speak in regards to the game-winning drive, the way it began off poorly and left the Steelers in a determined spot.

“So, issues didn’t go too effectively on these first three performs, as you understand. After which it will get all the way down to fourth down. A protracted approach to go. 22 seconds.

And I’m going into the huddle and I inform myself, ‘Franco, this will probably be the last play of the season. It was a good season. Just play it till the end.’

And (the coach) known as that 66 halfback possibility.”

Harris’ task was to remain in and block.

He recalled that “there wasn’t much … adrenaline” within the huddle.

We had been profitable the entire recreation and proper on the finish (the Raiders) scored. It appeared extra of a letdown than something.”

Harris joined the Seattle Seahawks in 1984.

Russo famous that Harris “did block well” on the play and observed that quarterback Terry Bradshaw was scrambling underneath stress from the protection.

“My thought was to release to be an outlet pass,” Harris stated. “And Bradshaw, being as, you know, big and as strong as he is, you know, guys trying to bring him down, he’s able to fight them off and get the ball into the air.”

Harris stated when the ball was within the air, “I tell myself, right, I tell myself ‘Go to the ball, go to the ball.’”

Harris stated that was his intuition as a result of that was what he was taught as a working again in faculty, underneath Joe Paterno at Penn State College.

“That’s what Joe preached to us all four years at Penn State. You know, always go to the ball … And so I start taking some steps to the ball and I remember nothing after that… which blows my mind, that I have no visual, no recollection of anything until I am stiff arming (Raiders defender) Jimmy Warren, going into the end zone.”

Harris famous how vital it was that he didn’t dive for the ball. In these days when a participant hits the bottom whereas possessing the ball, he was formally down and couldn’t advance it.

“How lucky am I that I was conscious that, you know, catch it that low without diving for it,” Harris stated.

Harris stated that after the gamers collided and the ball deflected into the air, a few of the Raiders began to clap and have fun.

“And the Raiders stop, just for a few seconds, and that few seconds that they stopped gave me the head start to get into the end zone.”

All these years later, when some old-time Raiders nonetheless assert that the catch wasn’t a authorized catch, Harris says he pays it no thoughts.

“As a matter of fact,” Harris stated, “I feel good that they’re still sulking about that.”

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