December 23, 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the The Immaculate Reception, the famous play where Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris caught a shoestring ball and ran it for a touchdown to beat the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs and kick off the Steelers’ dynasty.
The day afterwards, the Steelers will host the Raiders in Pittsburgh for a prime time game on Christmas Eve. It is only fitting then that the league and the team celebrate the anniversary of the play.
During Thursday’s NFL schedule release special, Steelers’ team reporter Missi Matthews interviewed team President Art Rooney II. One of the questions she asked him was about the upcoming anniversary of the historic play.
“We’re excited about it,” said Rooney. “We’ve been talking about that for awhile. Franco (Harris) been talking to me about it for awhile now. So, we’re going to have some celebrations to mark the occasion on Friday, the 23rd out at the historical marker right there, outside the stadium. We’ll have Franco and some of his teammates in town to celebrate the occasion on Christmas Eve night. Maybe even some Raiders will be in attendance, you never know.”
The NFL’s schedule announcement coverage also included an appearance by Harris, who was actually interviewed live at the site of the Immaculate Reception.
“It’s hard to believe,” said Harris. “50 years ago, wow, that was a heck of a moment for us. I just want to thank the NFL for lining up everything to make this happen. 50 years ago we played on a Saturday and this year it’ll be played on a Saturday 50 years later. Thank you NFL for making that happen. I mean, that is exciting. We’re just so excited here in Pittsburgh and that’s going to be one heck of a day.”
The league has been honoring the play since the NFL Draft when they had Harris come out and announce the Steelers’ first pick. Former players and celebrities announce draft picks all the time, but very rarely does one announce a team’s first round pick. That honor is usually reserved for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who instead introduced Harris by reading a statement honoring the immaculate reception.