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Franco Harris dies at age 72, days before the 50th anniversary of the 'Immaculate Reception'

Gene J. Puskar
Franco Harris died at age 72, just before the 50th anniversary of his catch dubbed "the immaculate reception."

Days before the 50th Anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception,” Franco Harris passes away at age 72
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This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception,” one of the most famous plays in NFL history. With the Steelers hosting the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, what was supposed to be a night celebration will now likely become a somber memorial as Franco Harris died last night at age 72.

Harris died overnight, just days before his number, No. 32, was set to be retired.

The Steelers Hall of Famer reflected on his amazing career, his teammates and, of course, the immaculate catch.

“I mean, when I watch the film and watch the film in real-time,” says Harris. “It blows my mind how quick it was. It was like, boom! But little did I know that, how quick that ball came back. And, and to be able to have that type of reaction, that quick. And to have the sense of mind to not break stride, otherwise I'd have been tackled and, you know, to get into the end zone. But the hard part is, I remember none of that. I have no recollection of anything. Like I have no visual of the ball. I have no visual of me thinking, you know, 'Hey, you know, catch it, don't break stride.'”

When speaking about the upcoming ceremony, Harris was taken aback when he first found out his jersey was being retired.

“I was like, ‘wow, I can't believe this.’ But what an honor. You know, we have so many great players on our team in the seventies. Out of the 22 starters, we have ten Hall of Famers. But to be the first offensive player to have the jersey retired, that's quite an honor,” says Harris.

The Steelers play the Raiders Saturday evening.

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But as 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Boden reports, people with dementia and cognitive decline are at greater risk.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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