the Steelers running back famous for his “Immaculate Reception” 50 years ago, told CBS News before his death he didn’t remember anything about the historic play, which was one of the most iconic in the NFL’s 102-year history.
In one of his final TV interviews before he died this week, the Pro Football Hall of Famer described what the play at Three Rivers Stadium was like for him.
“I remember nothing” of the “Immaculate Reception,” he told CBS News last week in Pittsburgh.
“I watch it on film, right, and I try to put the pieces together,” he said. “But when I left the backfield until stiff-arming Jimmy Warren going into the end zone, my mind is a complete blank.”
Born in Fort Dix, New Jersey, five years after World War II, Harris spent his life around football. When he played college football at Penn State University, he realized playing in the NFL was a reality.
At 6-foot-2 and weighing 230 pounds, he spent 12 NFL seasons terrorizing defenses.
But one play in the 1972 season came to define his career. In a playoff game between the Steelers and Oakland Raiders, Harris caught a deflected football just before it hit the turf, then sprinted to score the winning touchdown in the final seconds of the game.
“I remember leaving the backfield and I remember (Terry) Bradshaw throwing the ball and me saying to myself, ‘Go to the ball,'” Harris said.
Harris died two days before the 50th anniversary of the play, which helped catapult the Steelers into a football dynasty. The team is still one of America’s most iconic sports franchises.
His #32 jersey is set to be retired by the team on Saturday, making him one of three players in the Steelers’ franchise history to have their jersey retired.