NFL Network’s coverage of the halftime ceremony for the late Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris was anything but immaculate.
Just as the “Immaculate Reception” star’s video tribute was announced to the roaring Acrisure Stadium crowd, the cable net opted to cut away for an Intel ad.
Franco Harris Dies: Hall Of Famer Who Caught “The Immaculate Reception” & Won 4 Super Bowls Was 72
Steelers owner Art Rooney II was on the field with Franco Harris’ widow, Dana, and son, Dok, when the PA voice announced, “Please turn your attention to the video board as we celebrate Franco Harris.” The camera focused on the newly retired No. 32 in the stadium — but instead, NFL Network turned its attention to the Bottom Line.
The Hall of Fame running back who helped fuel the Steelers’ 1970s dominance was having his jersey number retired in what was planned as a joyous celebration around the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception — which was voted the Greatest Play in NHL History three years ago. His is only the third number to be retired in the team’s 90-year history, and the first for an offensive player.
When coverage returned from the commercial break, there was no mention on the on-field ceremony, and the network aired highlights from other NFL games.
It was an inelegant decision, and Twitter — as would be expected — erupted with disgust at the slight for Harris, a four-time Steelers Super Bowl and nine-time Pro Bowler. “Absolutely pathetic job by @nflnetwork going to commercial during Franco Harris tribute,” one guy wrote. Noted another, “They literally waited until the announcer said to “watch this tribute”, faded to black, aaaand went to commercial.”
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The ceremony had been planned for months, with Harris expected to join Rooney on the field during the game against the Las Vegas Raiders — whose 1970s Oakland iteration was the victim of the Immaculate Reception in December 1972. The play at the end of the divisional championship playoff game sent the Steelers to their first AFC Championship game.
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