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Greatest Play Ever? Mike Tomlin Reminisces on the Immaculate Reception



Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and the Immaculate Reception are about the same age. He’s well aware of the effect that the legendary play had on the franchise he guides today.

“Yeah, I was in Section 135 that day,” Tomlin joked at his Tuesday press conference. “I was eight months old. I think it’s funny, surprisingly, I’ve probably met 75,000 that were there that day. It’s just one of those beautiful things in the history of our game and it’s humbling to be in close proximity to it. To work for this organization, to understand its impact on this organization.”

Franco Harris’ unbelievable catch and run in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff game was the precursor for the Steelers’ dynasty that decade. Its impact was even further reaching.

“The career that it spawned in Franco — a gold jacket career,” Tomlin said. “What it did for them that season in terms of changing the trajectory of that season. What it’s done for this franchise. There are many things that make it the play that it is and the most significant play in the history of our game.”

Getting it done on Saturday — against the same opponent in just about the same place — would be a nice nod to the play’s legacy. The team will be wearing throwback uniforms with a patch for the Christmas Eve contest.

“It’s awesome to be a part of and to witness but, at the same, time we understand that we’ve got present-day business, and the best way we can honor him and that is by performing,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to work extremely hard to prepare ourselves leading up to it.”

Tomlin also spoke about his relationship with Harris, who he said is a pillar of the region stemming from the Immaculate Reception.

“He’s just a special man, forget the player,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, I never knew the player, I know the man and just what an awesome representation of this organization, this community — a guy that embraces all the responsibility that comes with being him.”