It may be the most famous piece in professional football history, but Franco Harris doesn’t remember it at all – never.
This is what the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers attorney and Hall of Famer said of what is reverently known as the Immaculate Reception. Flashback to 1972 when the Oakland Raiders led the Steelers with 22 seconds of play in a playoff game. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw’s pass ricocheted off either Raiders ‘Jack Tatum’s helmet or the hands of Steelers’ John Fuqua when Harris snatched it, driving it in for a touchdown and victory.
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The piece is still controversial as experts debate whether its catch was legitimate for nearly 40 years.
But don’t ask Harris to solve the problem. “I don’t remember,” he said. “I left the backcourt and I can’t remember anything, it’s really strange. But it’s on film, so … “
While Harris will be forever associated with this game, he will also be remembered for his other accomplishments on the field during his 12 years with the Steelers and one with the Seattle Seahawks. In 1990 he was elected to the Hall of Fame.
While Harris’ appearance on the grid is legendary, he also has a long history with fashion.
In an interview from his Pittsburgh home, Harris said one of the first companies he started in the 1970s was screen printing T-shirts. “I’ve always had a connection with the clothing industry,” he said. “I never planned it out, but certain things just seem to have drawn me to it.”
After gaining a foothold in the screen printing business, he began making nightgowns for women in Steelers colors with player names and numbers on the back in the early 1980s. The jerseys weren’t NFL sanctioned, so there was no formal league identification, but they were clearly intended to appeal to fans of the game.
Peyton Mannings Game Day socks.
At the age of 71, Harris partnered with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to obtain the license to develop Game Day Socks, a collection that recreates the jerseys of some of the sport’s most famous players with their names and numbers.
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The socks, which launched this week ahead of the Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Dallas Cowboys on August 5th and the induction ceremonies on August 7th and 8th, retail for $ 24.99. The first collection focuses on this year’s new additions, which include Peyton Manning, Troy Polamalu, and Charles Woodson, but can be expanded later. “It’s so exciting for me to honor the legacy of these great players and to be part of their game day kit,” said Harris. With the Game Day Socks fans can show their loyalty to their favorite players and teams “from the jersey on their back to the socks on their feet”.
The socks are made of sweat-wicking premium yarns, have additional padding and are equipped with Silverclean, an anti-odor technology that Harris and consumer goods expert Tom Davis developed in 2010. “It keeps the products free of bacteria and odor free,” he said. Thanks to the silver technology, the socks can be worn 17 times without washing.
Harris said he was always interested in fashion and laughed at the outrageous outfits he and his contemporaries wore in the ’70s. “We thought we were bow ties, we thought we were so cool with those big collars and bell-bottoms,” he said with a laugh. “Back then, fashion was a completely different world.”
Then, as now, fans want to show their loyalty to their favorite players and teams, and Game Day Socks is designed to appeal to those customers. “People love to show off color,” he says.
Harris plans to attend Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canton, Ohio next month to celebrate the award winners, five of whom are Pittsburgh Steelers. “That’s good for me,” he says.
Prior to the pandemic, Harris said he spent a lot of time on the streets, but that stopped when the pandemic broke out. “Life after football was business and travel,” he said. “I do event-related stuff and try to balance life with business, charity work, and fun events.”
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