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Canton's love letter to the 'Immaculate Reception'


   The piece of turf where Franco Harris'
   The piece of turf where Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" occurred. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

CANTON, Ohio -- To the casual observer, it's just a lonely patch of ratty turf. To the Pittsburgh Steelers faithful, you're looking at liquid gold.

This is the swath of Three Rivers Stadium carpet where Steelers running back Franco Harris pulled in the "Immaculate Reception" in a 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff Game win over the Oakland Raiders.

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Housed inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this piece of history was nearly lost forever. When Harris heard the turf was being replaced years later, he made it to Three Rivers just in time to rescue the relic before workers tore it to pieces.

Gil Brandt shared his memory of the play: "The interesting thing was that the official was unsure of what really took place, and he had enough sense to go over to the sideline telephone -- and I believe (former director of officiating) Art McNally was in the box -- and he said, 'Art, what happened?' And Art said, 'Well, it went off an Oakland player's hands.'

"The rule that we had at the time, was that if the ball went off an opponent's hand, then the catch was legal. So it was a great call."

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