Franco Harris Tribute

The NFL Network drew a very tough assignment Saturday night.

The network’s game, with the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Las Vegas Raiders, had been billed for weeks as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception.” That game-winning play, on Dec. 23, 1972, is widely regarded as the greatest play in NFL history.

Tragically, the man who made that incredible reception, Franco Harris, died in his sleep on Dec. 2o.

So the network made a swift yet skillful pivot from game coverage commemorating the great play, to a game-long celebration of Harris’ life and legacy.

The network covered the pregame tributes, shared timely anecdotes, and generally did a commendable job, without turning the event into a maudlin affair.

The NFL Network also aired the halftime ceremony in which the Steelers retired Harris’ iconic No. 32 jersey.

That’s when things went south. Immediately after Steelers owner Art Rooney II spoke, Acrisure Stadium aired a highlight tribute of Harris’ career.

Without a word, the NFL Network cut immediately to a commercial break.

Fans flooded Twitter with angry tweets about the network’s decision. Many blasted the decision to skip the video, saying that since the network had promoted the special occasion, it should have covered the entire ceremony.

Others were more understanding, acknowledging that there are bills to be paid through commercials, but still, the network could have at least aired a bit of the video, or at least apologized before abruptly breaking away.

Such decisions are obviously never easy. It’s unfortunate the NFL Network received such harsh criticism after an otherwise commendable job of covering this game.

[Photo credit: NFL Network]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.