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Franco Harris, Steeler who caught Immaculate Reception, dies

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw hands the ball off to fullback Franco Harris against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.
"1986 Jeno's Pizza - #46 Terry Bradshaw". Jeno's. 1986.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw hands the ball off to fullback Franco Harris against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.

Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris has died at the age of 72 just days before the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception.” His catch for the Pittsburgh Steelers is considered the most iconic play in NFL history. Harris ran for 12,120 yards and won four Super Bowl rings with Pittsburgh in the 1970s. The team's dynasty began in earnest when Harris decided to keep running during a last-second heave by quarterback Terry Bradshaw in a playoff game against Oakland in 1972. His catch and run off a deflected pass gave the Steelers their first-ever playoff win. Harris’ son, Dok, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his father died overnight. No cause of death was given.

On Thursday night football, Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars face Zach Wilson and the New York Jets in Week 16 for the second straight season. Both teams have come a long way since the previous meeting. This year, the Jaguars and Jets are in the middle of a playoff race in a jumbled AFC so there’s plenty at stake Thursday night. The resurgent Jaguars are one game behind the Titans in the AFC South. The Jets are one game behind the Dolphins and Chargers for a wild-card spot. Lawrence and Wilson were the 1-2 picks in the 2021 draft. While Lawrence has been outstanding over the past month, Wilson is only starting because Mike White is injured. He outdueled Lawrence in a 26-21 win at home on Dec. 26, 2021. Game time 8:15 p.m.


The NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles had a league-best eight players, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, selected for the first Pro Bowl Games. The league announced rosters for the NFC and AFC on Wednesday. Players from both conferences will compete in weeklong skills competitions culminated with a flag football game on Sunday, February 5, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game in September. Kansas City and Dallas each had seven players chosen for the Games. San Francisco and Baltimore are next with six. Only two teams — Jacksonville and Chicago — aren’t represented on the initial rosters.


Kevin Durant scored 23 points, all but two in a 91-point first half that was the third-biggest in NBA history, and the Brooklyn Nets routed the Golden State Warriors 143-113 to send the reigning champions staggering home with their second blowout loss in two nights in New York. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins all sidelined, the Warriors finished 1-5 on their road trip to the East and will hope to get healthy before they have to get back on the court on Christmas against Memphis. The Nets matched a franchise record with nine players in double figures and won their seventh straight.

Pascal Siakam scored a career-high 52 points and the Toronto Raptors snapped the New York Knicks’ NBA-leading eight-game winning streak 113-106. Siakam added nine rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes as Toronto snapped its six-game skid. Fred VanVleet scored 28 points and OG Anunoby had 15 as the Raptors won for the fourth time in 16 road games. R.J. Barrett scored with 30 points and Julius Randle finished with 30 points and had 13 rebounds. Immanuel Quickley added 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting in his first start of the season.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 33 points and the Indiana Pacers opened a 30-point lead in the first half before holding off the slumping Boston Celtics 117-112 on Wednesday night. Former Celtics player Aaron Nesmith had 15 points, Chris Duarte added 14 and Myles Turner had 10 to help the Pacers win for just the second time in six games. Jayson Tatum led Boston with 41 points after missing a game because of personal reasons, while point guard Marcus Smart sat out with a non-COVID illness. Jaylen Brown added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, and Malcolm Brogdon had 18 points. Atop the NBA a week ago, the Celtics have dropped five of six.


Gregg Popovich is a Hall of Fame nominee for the first time. The NBA’s all-time winningest coach is among the list of prominent first-time nominees for the 2023 class released today/Wednesday by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Also on the ballot for the first time: Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Dwyane Wade. They were all expected. But Popovich was the biggest surprise on the list, since it’s never been clear until now when he would allow the Hall to list him as a candidate. Finalists will be announced in February. Hall of Famers will be announced in April and the enshrinement happens in August.


New Jersey doubled up Florida 4-2.

Colorado beat Montreal in overtime 2-1.

David Guistina is the host of Capital Connection, Legislative Gazette, and Morning Edition and the producer of the Media Project on WAMC.