Immaculate Reception video shows very few famous NFL games

Weird how things are going. While this is probably the most famous and replayed replay in NFL history, it’s not very good. It’s blurry, grainy. It shows little and proves nothing.

Yet he remains with us, always. And the unexpected passing of Franco Harris last week still doesn’t mean he needs much of an introduction.

« I was a 22-year-old NBC production assistant that day in Pittsburgh, » said Mike Weisman, who would become NBC Sports’ executive producer. « I was in charge of the graphics – just getting the right score plus the distance.

“We couldn’t miss this capture of Franco Harris. We were prepared. We used six tape recorders, a lot for the time. No matter what, we couldn’t miss it.

December 23, 1972, Three Rivers Stadium, AFC Divisional Playoffs, Raiders-Steelers. The Raiders led, 7-6, 22 seconds left. The Steelers, who were out of timeouts, had the ball at 40 on fourth down.

Weisman: “The truck was logically expecting a long pass, so isolated, a taped blanket was assigned to the receivers, then one to each of the end zones to follow the ball. What could we be missing?

“After the game and during all the confusion – was it a trap? A direct take? Did he hit the ground? Did he hit first [RB] Frenchy Fuqua, who would have made it an illegal catch? Or did it bounce [DB] Jack Tatum before he hit Harris? – we hunted for the replay.

Neither the NBC tapes nor NFL Films can conclusively reveal whether Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception was a legal play or not.
Neither the NBC tapes nor NFL Films can conclusively reveal whether Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception was a legal play or not.

“But we couldn’t find it, not a revealing or conclusive one. It wasn’t there!

“We were totally deflated, completely disgusted. We left the stadium in the misery of the group. The best end to a huge match and we didn’t get it!

It got worse. The next day, NFL Films would release the footage he had filmed. It would show exactly what happened.

“We would be even more embarrassed,” Weisman recalls, “even more humiliated. These guys were good.

But the « immaculate reception », if it was indeed a hiccup, was followed by another miracle – of the TV ego kind.

Weisman: “NFL Films didn’t have it either! Imagine! Misery loves company!

And so NBC was spared the sole ignominy of not showing a rerun of perhaps the most famous play in NFL history. And I kinda like it like that, a lingering mystery that football fans, replay rules advocates, archaeologists and other chisels can’t unlock.

And yet, Weisman, semi-retired in Los Angeles, still regularly hears that he was part of the production team responsible for « The Greatest Replay in NFL History! »

« I just shrug my shoulders and smile, » he said. « And tell them, ‘Well, not exactly. It’s a long story.’ ”

Brees, who beats the Bible, must cut the ties of Betting Co.

Now that he has joined Purdue’s coaching staff, Drew Brees can no longer be invested in or serve as the TV face and voice of a sports gambling operation that particularly targets suckers as it encourages betting, especially at naïve young men, on every game, every game. But Brees remains a devout Bible preacher.

Drew Bree
Drew Bree

I still can’t tell which of Goodell Chargers DB Derwin James’ virtue signaling helmet messages wore when he tried to behead helpless Colts WR Ashton Dulin on Monday with a brutal blow to the head for which he was was immediately ejected. Help me, Roger, was it « Black Lives Matter » or « Choose Love »?

Fox’s 20-year-old filibuster Daryl « Moose » Johnston still can’t make a short without a story. If it weren’t for his layoffs, which during Sunday’s Packers-Dolphins included « very unique » and how Green Bay’s AJ Dillon took a transfer « and stumbled for a negative loss, » he might be tolerable. No.

Hey, on Tuesday the Knicks wore their traditional home uniforms – like they played in Dallas.

Nice NCAA student-athlete look during Friday’s Wake Forest-Missouri Gasparilla Bowl — you had me after « Gas » — as two Missouri players scrambled after one broke code by assisting Wake’s QB to get up.

I don’t know how many times on Saturday Adam Amin and Mark Schlereth of Fox told us that the Giants and Vikings had played really close games this season, but I stopped counting at 10.

As reader Kenny Kaplan notes, this past weekend the Jets and Eagles ditched their green uniforms for black Nike. Both lost.

Sports merchandisers always miss the obvious. Who wouldn’t want a Barry Trotz statue or now a Brian Daboll model with a clock in their stomach excited to meet you?

With all the time in the world, flat or round, to show something worth watching from the studio show at halftime on Saturday, CBS chose, among Eagles-Cowboys, a replay of the QB Eagles’ Gardner Minshew scoring on a 2-foot, right-push forward.

Do you like NBA games? I did it once. Tuesday, Celtics 126, Rockets 102. Field goal attempts: 186. Three-point attempts: 101, 54 percent of all shots made.

Heck, I remember when New York City Representative George Santos and NBC News’ Brian Williams sang as Milli Vanilli.

Casting « Hollerin » Kevin Harlan in an NFL game on CBS or Westwood One Radio is like listening to bingo on a cruise ship loaded with hearing-impaired seniors. But current broadcast executives favor those who shout, the louder the better. Fair warning: Harlan is calling – shouting – Sunday’s Colts-Giants.

Kevin Harlan
Kevin Harlan
NBAE via Getty Images

Whenever I hear « Baker Mayfield », I imagine a vintage car, like the 1936 Baker-Mayfield. Let’s not even mention Booger McFarland.

Franco deserved better from NFL Network

In an NFL season badly affected by television’s inattention to the circumstances of the game and the meaningful post-game interactions between important players, nothing seems so negligent as what Roger Goodell’s NFL Network did to Saturday’s Raiders-Steelers halftime.

In one of the cruellest acts of fate, Franco Harris was to be honored at half-time as his No. 32 retired to line up with the 50th anniversary of his ‘immaculate reception’.

Harris, 72, died suddenly two days before the ceremony. But the ceremony, now just as poignant, would continue.

NFL Network knew this before and after Harris’ death. It was where it was supposed to be, where viewers wanted and needed to be rather than focusing on stats or whatever at halftime in a bad game between bad teams.

But at halftime, when the PA announcer could be heard saying, « We’re turning your attention… » to a video of the scoreboard saluting Harris, NFL Network cut the commercials. There was money to be made.

It was nauseating, infuriating, disgusting and singularly indefensible.

But not particularly surprising, is it?

« It’s all about our fans, » bragged Goodell.

The Brendan Burke-Butch Goring team on MSG’s Islanders TV shows have become a reliable, honest and enjoyable pair to watch a game with.

Early Tuesday in Pens-Isles, winger Anthony Beauvillier broke the left side with the puck when he was intercepted by Pittsburgh defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph, who skillfully got Beauvillier out of the puck.

Goring, who relies on no flourishes or wordplay, played it in the middle. He praised Joseph with a simple but perfect explanation of Beauvillier’s plight: “Nowhere to go, no time, no space.


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