PITTSBURGH (AP)The Pittsburgh Steelers retired Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris’ No. 32 during a bittersweet ceremony on Saturday night at halftime of their game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The long-planned honor came three days after Harris died at age 72 and one day after the 50th anniversary of ”The Immaculate Reception” Harris pulled off in a playoff victory over the Raiders.
Harris’ widow, Dana Dokmanovich, and their son, Dok, joined Steelers president Art Rooney II on stage while many of Harris’ former teammates, coaches and rivals-turned-friends stood nearby.
”It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” Rooney said. ”The big man was supposed to be with us tonight. … Franco brought us joy for 50 years. So in recognition of his many contributions both on and off the field, it’s my honor to declare No. 32 is officially retired.”
The Steelers honored one of the cornerstones of their 1970s dynasty throughout the night. Many players wore a replica of Harris’ jersey into the stadium and during warmups, and their throwback uniforms featured a patch commemorating the 50th anniversary of what was voted in 2020 as the most famous play in NFL history.
Defensive co-captain Cam Heyward carried a massive black flag with No. 32 on it during pregame introductions. The club held a moment of silence for Harris before the opening kickoff.
Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett – whose selection with the 20th overall pick in last spring’s draft was announced by Harris – even barked out ”Franco! Franco!” in his cadence before sneaking for a first down in the second quarter.
Harris is the third Steeler to have his number retired. The team retired Hall of Fame lineman Ernie Stautner’s No. 70 in 1964 and the No. 75 of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene in 2014.
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