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Immaculate Memory
ROY BLOUNT JR.
December 10, 2012
FRANCO HARRIS'S MIRACLE CATCH IN DECEMBER 1972 TURNED THE AUTHOR AND HIS YOUNG SON INTO PASSIONATE STEELERS FANS. FORTY YEARS LATER THEY WENT BACK TO PITTSBURGH TO WAVE TERRIBLE TOWELS AND SEE WHAT'S NEW IN THE AGE OF POLAMALU
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December 10, 2012

Immaculate Memory

FRANCO HARRIS'S MIRACLE CATCH IN DECEMBER 1972 TURNED THE AUTHOR AND HIS YOUNG SON INTO PASSIONATE STEELERS FANS. FORTY YEARS LATER THEY WENT BACK TO PITTSBURGH TO WAVE TERRIBLE TOWELS AND SEE WHAT'S NEW IN THE AGE OF POLAMALU

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Kirven: "I asked him about Leftwich's feeble pass to him when he was wide open, and how he slipped trying to come back for it. He said in college he would have come back more aggressively, but he trusted Byron's arm. Neither of us knew that Byron had broken ribs at the time—he was with the throng of reporters, admirably refusing to use those ribs as an excuse. You remember, when he was asked if he surprised himself running for a touchdown, he said, 'I'm not a slow quarterback. I'm just the slowest black quarterback.' And Gilreath asked me, 'Do you think I should have caught it?' in such a tender way that I assured him he couldn't have." That's my boy. Human interest.

Here's one last nostalgia-cutter: Joe Gordon was Ed Kiely's No. 2 in the old days. "The most important game after the Immaculate Reception," Joe says, "was the Steelers beating Oakland out there in '74. John Madden had said the Super Bowl had already been played the week before when [the Raiders] beat Miami."

Oh, I remember. We kicked Raiders butt 24--13 to win the AFC title, and when we flew back into the Pittsburgh airport, wow, it was full of Steelers fans. It was like being welcomed into Heaven. It doesn't get any better than that, right? Well, but here's Gordon:

"Twenty years later, I tried to find a tape of that game. Finally a guy in the Greensburg area said he had one. I bought four copies from him. You could not believe how slow it was. We're always in standard formations, occasionally a fifth back. And the speed of it compared to today—it was like slow motion! I only watched 10 minutes of it, and I haven't looked at it since. Better off reading about it."

Noted.

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