Steelers unveil Immaculate monument
By John Grupp
Published: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, 7:24 p.m.
Even more Steelers fans can now claim they saw the Immaculate Reception.
The Steelers unveiled a monument to one of the most famous plays in NFL history on Saturday, the eve of the 40th anniversary of Franco Harris' miracle, last-second touchdown to beat the Oakland Raiders in the 1972 AFC playoffs.
The 34- by 54-inch, 340-pound bronze plaque is on West General Robinson Street between Stage AE and Heinz Field at the spot in now-demolished Three Rivers Stadium where Harris made his fingertip, shoe-top catch. The Hall of Fame running back is shown eluding the outstretched arms of a Raiders defender.
“It's a great day, and it's still a great feeling,” Harris said at the ceremony, which was attended by about 400 fans, along with former Steelers players and executives, including co-owner Dan Rooney and Hall of Famer Joe Greene.
A bronze inlay of Harris' size 101⁄2 cleat is in front of the plaque, and granite inserts in the gray-dyed sidewalk represent the hash marks and out-of-bounds markers. A large “30” etched into the sidewalk signifies the long-gone yard line.
The monument, designed and built by Pittsburgh-based Matthews International, was a nine-month project privately funded by Allegheny Technologies, the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Steelers.
Josh Rooney, director of sales and marketing for Matthews International and a cousin of Steelers President Art Rooney II, said marking the spot of former Three Rivers Stadium was crucial to the design.
“That was always Art's intent,” he said. “People need to know where it was.”
Former Raiders linebacker Phil Villapiano attended the event and, in good nature, questioned the validity of Harris' touchdown while speaking a couple of feet from the monument.
“I think this is my statue,” he said, gently tapping the trunk of a small tree, “because I got clipped right at this tree. This should be my statue.”
Former Steeler John “Frenchy” Fuqua — quarterback Terry Bradshaw's intended target — did nothing to quell the controversy as he walked through the crowd after the ceremony. Fuqua pulled down his jacket to reveal the back of his T-shirt.
It read, in big, gold-on-black letters: “I'll Never Tell.”
John Grupp is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached email@example.com or 412-320-7930.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rice cornerback among 3 draft prospects to visit Steelers
- Despite many moves, Steelers’ depth still a work in progress
- Steelers get familiar exhibition opponents
- Steelers’ Tomlin experiencing urgency entering 2014
- Steelers notebook: Today’s game creates tweaks to 3-4 defense
- Steelers sign Blount, fill need at RB