The Immaculate Reception Turns 50

Before their Super Bowl teams of the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers had never won a playoff game. But that all changed 50 years ago when one play transformed the fortunes of a franchise and a city.

The Steelers trailed the Oakland Raiders 7-to-6 in the fourth quarter of the 1972 divisional playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium. Facing a fourth-and-10 on their own 40-yard line with under 30 seconds left, quarterback Terry Bradshaw called a deep pass play to rookie receiver Barry Pearson. With Raiders defenders in pursuit, Bradshaw scrambled in the pocket and sailed a pass to fullback John “Frenchy” Fuqua at the Raiders’ 35-yard line. The pass deflected off Oakland’s Jack Tatum just as he collided with Fuqua, sending the ball backward towards the line of scrimmage. Steelers’ rookie running back Franco Harris snatched the ball just before it hit the ground and raced downfield to score the game-winning touchdown, giving the Steelers their first-ever playoff victory.

Today, 50 years later, the Immaculate Reception is considered the greatest play in NFL history and its legacy continues to grow. This holiday season, the Sports Museum will commemorate the Immaculate Reception’s golden anniversary with exhibitions, public programs, merchandise, and more.

Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception: 50 Years Later

Event

Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

Join the Sports Museum, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Franco Harris, members of the 1972 Steelers team, and other special guests on Thursday, Dec. 22, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the greatest play in NFL history.

Super Steelers

Exhibit

Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

The Sports Museum is the home of the Immaculate Reception year-round, featuring iconic artifacts such as Franco’s cleats, the Three Rivers Stadium field turf, and other objects from the play. This holiday season, the exhibition will feature new artifacts that examine Franco Harris’ life and career, including the Immaculate Reception football, which will be on public view for just the second time in history, and never-before-seen archival material and photographs.

#Francoing for the 50th

Steelers Nation, show us how you Franco! To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the greatest play in NFL history, the Sports Museum and the Steelers are challenging fans from around the world to post photos of their best Immaculate Reception impression to social media.

Fans can post photos of themselves #Francoing by tagging the History Center on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook.

Each fan that posts a photo using the hashtag #Francoing and tags the History Center will be automatically entered to win a Black & Gold prize package including:  

  • 2 tickets to the Steelers vs. Raiders game on Dec. 24 when Franco’s No. 32 jersey will be retired 
  • VIP experience at the “Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception: 50 Years Later” event on Dec. 22 at the History Center, which includes 4 complimentary tickets and a Franco Harris meet-and-greet 
  • Pittsburgh swag bag from the Museum Shop

No social media? No problem! Submit your best #Francoing photo via e-mail or the form below.

Here we go, let’s do the Franco!

Submit Your Photo

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