PITTSBURGH ( Associated Press) – Pittsburgh Steelers retired Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, No. 32, during an emotional ceremony Saturday night at halftime of their game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The long-planned ceremony to honor Harris came three days after the star’s death at age 72 and one day after the 50th anniversary of Harris’ “immaculate reception” in the playoff victory over the Raiders.
Harris’ widow, Dana Dokmanovich, and her son, Doc, were joined onstage by Steelers president Art Rooney II, as were many of Harris’ teammates, coaches, and rival-turned-friends in attendance.
Rooney said, ‘This should not have happened. “This great man should have been standing here with us tonight… Franco brought us joy for 50 years. It is therefore my honor to announce the number 32 as officially retired, in recognition of his many contributions on and off the field.”
The Steelers recognized one of the key pieces of their 1970s dynasty overnight. Several players wore a replica of Harris’ jersey during warmups, and the team’s throwback uniforms feature a patch commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 2020 play voted as the most famous play in NFL history.
Defensive co-captain Cam Hayward walked out carrying a large flag bearing No. 32 at the team presentation. A minute’s silence was held for Harris before kickoff.
Pittsburgh’s rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who was declared the 20th overall pick in the draft by Harris, shouted “Franco, Franco” before going on a first-and-10 in the second quarter.
Harris is the third Steelers player to have his number retired. The team did so in 1964 with Hall of Fame lineman Ernie Stautner No. 70 and in 2014 with No. 75 Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene.