Steelers’ Cam Heyward Offers Perfect ‘Tip Of The Cap’ To Fallen Hero Franco Harris Amid 50th Immaculate Reception Anniversary

The 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception was on Friday, December 23rd, and the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers planned huge festivities to commemorate the event that launched decades of success. The captain of the Steelers defense, cam heyward, was a part of that celebration. He spoke to the media postgame about being involved.

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 21: Football: Super Bowl XIII, Pittsburgh Steelers Franco Harris (32) in action, rushing vs Dallas Cowboys Randy White (54), Miami, FL 1/21/1979 (Photo by Peter Read Miller/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (SetNumber: X23080 TK1 R4 F4)

Steelers – Raiders Back Story

The 1972 Steelers season was about to be over. The Steelers were losing to the then-Oakland Raiders, 7-6 with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter. They lined up for a fourth and 10 on the 40-yard line. Their quarterback, Terry Bradshawwas under pressure and launched the ball at the first black jersey he saw, at the same time the Raiders safety, Jack Tatum and the Steelers running back, John Fuqua crashed into each other.

The ball bounced off of them and headed back toward running back, Frank Harris. Harris always said he had no collection of actually catching the ball, but the next thing he knew, he was running for the end zone where he scored the game-winning touchdown. The Immaculate Reception did not just change the fortunes of a season, it changed the fortune of a franchise. Harris went on to become a vital part of four Super Bowl wins and the birth of a dynasty. It also sparked a Steelers/Raiders rivalry that endures to this day.

Steelers’ Cam Heyward Honors Harris During Opening

Now, 50 years later, the city, the Steelers, and the NFL have planned elaborate festivities for the celebration. The Steelers will once again be facing the Raiders, but this time, of Las Vegas.

The team retired Harris’ number 32, making it only the third number officially retired by the team.

Unfortunately, God and the Fates had a change of plans in mind and the Steeler legend passed away just days before the game. In addition to the loss of Harris, the weather for Christmas Eve was going to be below zero, making much of the outdoor festivities impossible.

The new scaled-down festivities were no less meaningful and it all started with pregame introductions. The last player introduced was Heyward, who ran out onto the field carrying a huge black flag with the number 32 on it, honoring Harris.

After the game, Heyward was asked about the emotions behind it and about how much it impacts their game play during his press conference:

“Uh, you know Coach T. [Mike Tomlin], you know he doesn’t like to get in the ‘dedicating the game to a certain person’ because it can go one of two ways. I think for us, it was just a tip of the cap, not only just to Steeler legend, but just a great man. A person in the community who you could always count on, a guy that even when he retired, he still wanted to be your teammate. I could say for my time being here, Franco is welcoming me with open arms.

With everything building up to this and getting a chance to talk to Franco, you know I think there’s so many joyous moments we’ve had with him. It hurts so many in this community to lose a guy like that. He lived a full life and he knew he was loved by so many people, you know there are so many outstanding men that love him: Mean Joe [Greene], Mel Blount, countless others, Terry Bradshaw. Decades and decades go on, but we still care for a man that brought so much to us. We’ll continue to love him and we appreciate all that he’s done for us.”

Steelers Franco Harris

MIAMI, FL – FEBRUARY 01: NFL Hall of Fame player Franco Harris poses on the Red Carpet prior to the NFL Honors on February 1, 2020 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, FL. (Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Heyward certainly echoes the sentiment of a city that is mourning the loss of a fallen hero. Franco Harris embodied so much more than just an excellent football player, he was an outstanding human being that made everyone around him better for having known him.

What did you think when you saw Heyward run out with the flag? Click to comment below!


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