2022 NFL Draft: Franco Harris Honored for 50th Anniversary of Immaculate Reception, Announces Pittsburgh’s Draft Pick

by Suzanne Halliburton
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Raiders fans noticed the irony as soon as Franco Harris stepped to the draft podium. The NFL is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pittsburgh’s “Immaculate Reception.” And by the way, Harris scored the improbable TD against the Raiders.

It didn’t matter that in 1972, the Raiders were based in Oakland, not Las Vegas. The old-time fans still remember the play and the younger ones know the story. It’s one of those legends handed down through the generations. It’s cheered by the Steelers and jeered by the Raiders.

One fan wrote: “Bringing out Franco Harris to celebrate the Immaculate Reception in front of Raider Nation is savage.”

Another fan wrote: “I totally missed this: Goodell, of course, announced Franco Harris by pointing out it’s been 50 years since the Immaculate Reception. Against the Raiders. IN THE RAIDERS’ HOME CITY. That’s the most backhanded poke in the eye, EVER, for a draft pick announcement.”

But Wait. NFL Draft Helped Celebrate Franco Harris, Top Play in History

There are a ton of folks who think the Franco Harris play was the best ever in the NFL. It’s why it has such a Biblical name. In the church of football, it has its own book.

On Dec. 23, 1972, the Raiders led the Steelers 7-6, with 30 seconds remaining in this AFC Divisional playoff game. Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw, as he was chased by the Raider defense, threw towards John Fuqua. The ball possibly bounced off the helmet of Raiders great Jack Tatum. Or Fuqua might’ve got his fingers on it. Replays don’t show exactly what happened. But Harris caught the carom before the ball hit the ground and then scored a touchdown.

Raiders fans, to this day, believe it was an incomplete pass.

Harris Also Was in Vegas to Announce Steelers Selection

Now, Franco Harris had other reasons to attend the NFL draft. He wasn’t there to stick a finger in the collective eye of Raider Nation. Rather, Harris announced the Pittsburgh Steelers selection. Pittsburgh chose local kid Kenny Pickett. He quarterbacked the Pittsburgh Panthers to a sensational season. And he also ended up as the only quarterback selected in Thursday’s first round.

The Panthers thanked Harris for doing the honors. You can check out the video below.

But college football fans noticed the coolness of the announcement when rivalries were silenced for a moment or two. Check that, maybe those rivalries can’t be silenced. After all, Harris starred for Penn State.

A Panthers fan wrote: “Of course they brought out Franco Harris to ruin this perfect Pitt moment.”

Harris’ announcement also was a bittersweet moment. Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired at the end of the 2021 season. The competition for the starting job was wide open, with Mason Rudolph competing with Dwayne Haskins and Mitchell Trubisky to be QB1. But Haskins died earlier this month after he was hit by a vehicle during a trip to South Florida to train with teammates. The NFL opened the draft with a moment of silence for Haskins, who was a first-rounder only three years ago.

Outsider.com