Pittsburgh Steelers will retire Franco Harris’ No. 32 to honor the 50th anniversary of Immaculate Reception
As a feature of a weekend-long celebration to honor the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, the Steelers will retire the No. 32 jersey of Franco Harris.
The running back’s number is simply the third to be retired by the Steelers, joining Ernie Stautner (70) and Joe Greene (75). Harris is additionally the first Steelers offensive player to have his number retired.
“The Immaculate Reception marked the turning point in franchise history,” Steelers team president Art Rooney II said. “My grandfather once was quoted saying, ‘Before Franco got here, we didn’t win much. Since he got here, we don’t lose.’ I think that sums it up pretty good. Franco’s impact on the franchise would be hard to overstate.”
Harris’ number will be retired at halftime of the Dec. 24 primetime game against the Oakland Raiders. The Steelers will likewise wear a special yellow patch on their jerseys honoring the 50th anniversary of the game.
Rooney requested the NFL for a home game toward the weekend of the Immaculate Reception anniversary.
“I pointed out to them that we actually had the Raiders on our schedule this year, not thinking that they would actually put the Raiders in Pittsburgh that weekend,” Rooney said. “So I was surprised when it happened.”
The other day, on the actual anniversary of Harris’ legendary play, the Steelers will hold a ceremony at 3:29 p.m. on the marker outside the stadium in the specific place where Harris made the catch in 1972. The ceremony will be open to the public and attended by Harris, some of his partners and previous Raiders players Mike Siani and Phil Villapiano. A replay of the radio broadcast will be available on the team website.
“In my wildest dreams, I never expected it and, and it never crossed my mind,” Harris said of having his number retired. “It just wasn’t something that was top of mind. The Steelers don’t retire numbers. So you don’t have any thoughts about it. And so when Art mentioned it to me, I was blown away. I mean, that was a wow moment and unbelievable.”
In addition to the fact that Harris snagged the Immaculate Reception, he likewise was a part of four Super Bowls and was the Super Bowl IX MVP. He additionally procured the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1972 and was named NFL Man of the Year in 1976. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
“No one saw the Steelers of the ’70s coming,” Harris said. “Nobody saw that, and it probably was beyond all expectations and dreams.”