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Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris passed away at 72 years old on December 20, 2022. His sudden death came three days before the 50th anniversary of the ‘Immaculate Reception’ and four days prior to his former team’s game against the Raiders.
Pittsburgh had already planned to retired Harris’ No. 32 jersey at halftime while celebrating his legacy on Christmas Eve, 50 years after he came down with one of the biggest catches in franchise history. It had been promoted for weeks.
Unfortunately, it came with a more somber tone on Saturday.
In Harris’ honor, the Steelers arrived to their Week 16 game while wearing his jersey— which will never again be worn on the field. It was a really cool gesture from players who understood just how much the late running back meant, and means, to their team.
Cam Heyward came out of the tunnel carrying a No. 32 flag for Franco in pregame.
And then, at halftime, Harris’ widow and his son were invited onto the field for an extremely emotional tribute and jersey retirement ceremony. They were joined by owner Art Rooney and players from the legendary 1972 team.
NFL Network cut away from the Franco Harris tribute.
NFL Network, which was broadcasting the game, showed the moment with players and family. However, when the PA voice announced, “please turn your attention to the video board as we celebrate Franco Harris,” the network cut to an Intel advertisement.
The decision was certainly questionable. It left viewers frustrated.
The ceremony, which had been planned for weeks, had to be approached from a different angle after his unexpected passing. Things had to change, and plans had to be adjusted.
However, NFL Network’s decision to cut away before the tribute was not necessary and a big oversight.