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Immaculate Reception monument to be unveiled Dec. 22

| Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, 2:44 p.m.

A monument honoring Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception will be unveiled Dec. 22, one day before the 40th anniversary of one of the most unforgettable and unlikely plays in American sports history.

The bronze monument will be located between Heinz Field and Stage AE, at the very spot where Harris made his miracle touchdown catch at Three Rivers Stadium on Dec. 23, 1972, rallying the Steelers past the Oakland Raiders, 13-7, for the first playoff win in franchise history.

The Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals the following day, when Harris will be honored at halftime.

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of the ‘Immaculate Reception' and it will forever have a place in all of our memories,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement issued Tuesday by the team. “Over the years, I have had many fans tell me we should do something to commemorate the exact location of Franco Harris' catch.”

While the Pirates have several action-type statutes on display at nearby PNC Park honoring Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Honus Wagner and Bill Mazeroski, this will be the first such Steelers monument. The only Steelers statue at Heinz Field is that of team founder Art Rooney Sr.

“Forty years ago, the greatest play in the annals of the NFL helped to shape the Steelers franchise,” said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center, which will assist in the fundraising.

The monument, to be funded by donations, will be sculpted and cast by Matthews International and will be presented by specialty metals producer ATI.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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