Friday, October 7, 2011

Flashback Friday: The Immaculate Reception

Baseball has the "Shot heard 'round the world," and whenever you hear that phrase you know exactly what somebody its referring to. There's something really definitive about the fact that there can never be another Shot heard 'round the world, because Bobby Thompson's blast that gave the Giants the pennant in 1951 has dibs on the phrase. (The phrase has meaning outside of sports too, but when it comes to baseball, there's only one Shot heard 'round the world.)

Football has it's own defining shot, and its nickname cleverly sums up the curiously miraculous nature of the play it is named after: The immaculate reception. Now, Franco Harris' TD reception might not be quite as supernatural or ethereal as what happened to the Virgin Mary, but his 60 yard reception on 4th and 10 against the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium will always be remembered as the ultimate walk-off reception in an NFL game.

The immaculate reception is memorable because of what it was -- an improbable combination of luck, timing and divine intervention -- but its legacy has grown because of what it caused. It was the first domino to fall in the series that lead to one of the greatest runs of dominance in NFL history. The play helped the Steelers reverse four decades of NFL futility, and Pittsburgh went on to win four Super Bowls in the next eight years. The franchise has been among the NFL's elite ever since.

Did you Know?

--- A statue of Franco Harris making the reception stands in the Pittsburgh International Airport

--- Myron Cope, a Pittsburgh sportscaster, is given credit for using the phrase first when reporting after the game, but he didn't coin the phrase. A friend named Sharon Levosky called cope to suggest it to him after the game. The phrase was coined by her friend Michael Ord.