If you have not overdosed on Immaculate Reception information by now, buckle up because Sunday is the 40th anniversary of the most incredible play in NFL history.
Tonight at 8 Eastern Time, the NFL Network on it’s “A Football Life” series turns its attention to that play. It’s worth watching, although just a bit disappointing because it focuses its attention so much on whether that play was legal or not, and we see the replay ad naseum.
There really is no new information here, but there may be some things most Steelers fans have not seen, such as the bank-sized vault the man with the ball keeps it locked up in. One man says “The Immaculate Reception became the Zapruder film of sports,’’ because it has been analyzed so often through the years.
They do not show this until later in tonight’s show, but they freeze a shot where the ball is clearly past Frenchy Fuqua and about to hit Jack Tatum. That makes it a legal play. The rules were different then in that a pass could not hit one teammate and be caught by another (yes, a silly rule). However, if an opponent hit it at any point, even if it bounced off a teammate, than it was legal for anyone to catch. The ball may have touched Fuqua first, but it clearly hit Tatum.
End of issue. But not for the Raiders.
John Madden refused to be interviewed for the show. He’s probably too busy counting his money and the many failures of his Oakland Raiders in the post-season.
The show has many failings. It never shows a shot of an official signalling a touchdown and it allows Madden (from old interviews) and others claim no official immediately signalled touchdown after Harris crossed the goalline, never challenging them. However, stories through the years clearly indicate one official did signal a touchdown right away.
It also has extensive interviews with Michael Hayden and includes all of his credentials, including CIA director, without ever mentioning he is a Pittsburgh native. You think that might have colored his opinions of that play?
Despite those, it’s a show worth watching and the best comment in it comes from Rocky Bleier about all of those in attendance at the game in Three Rivers Stadium: “No one saw what took place.’’
Onto some stuff:
--- While many focus on what the Steelers need to do to reach the playoffs, they will be eliminated Sunday if they lose. They also can win the division and have that first playoff game at Heinz Field if they win both games and Baltimore loses both (including its finale at Cincinnati).
--- Here’s a synopsis and audio from my regular Tuesday appearance on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh:
--- According to www.makenflplayoffs.com:
“The Steelers have a 35.1% chance of making the playoffs and a 6.2% chance of winning the division. If they win both of their remaining games, they will clinch a playoff berth. If they win 1 of 2 remaining games, they have a 20.2% chance of making the playoffs.”
However, the site likes the Bengals’ chances a lot more, pegging them at 62.6 percent.
----Jerome Bettis appeared on a Cincinnati radio show, Fox Sports 1360, with Andy Furman and ex-Bengal Artrell Hawkins, a Johnstown native and had a few interesting things to say:
Furman: "Have the fans had enough of Mike Tomlin and if the Steelers miss the playoffs, do you think Mike Tomlin will be gone"?
Bettis: "No way....There's no way. He's been a straight-shooter this whole way. He's dealt with the adversity just as well as he's dealt with the success. Steeler fans have endeared themselves to him and I don't think they want him to leave. The organization understands what's going on and knows that he's given them the right direction. Unfortunately, they're just not getting the job done. There is nothing the head coach can do when guys aren't catching the football, fumbling the football, etc...he's getting the players ready but, when you make these bonehead mistakes then you take yourself out of that chance to win".
Hawkins: "Would you say the decision to not bring back Bruce Arians and hire Todd Haley was a mistake?"
Bettis: "I think it was a mistake, but it was a long time coming. When your star QB and offensive coordinator were really close and ownership felt that (Ben) wasn't getting enough discipline. It wasn't a one-year thing. Since Ben wasn't getting the discipline, they also felt that (Arians) was giving in to what Ben wanted to do as opposed to the philosophy of the Steelers, which has always been running the football first. When he (Arians) got away from running the football it created a problem in the mindset of the offense and became public enemy number one. I think the Steelers needed to see what kind of team did they have? Not a team that can run the ball 40 times and win. Now with (Todd) Haley, they don't have the personnel to do that and they're not winning".
To hear the audio, visit:
Onto the mail:
--- YOU: Ed, with Ambassador Rooneys return to the team, is there any further clarity as to what his role will be both with respect to both the Steelers and the league?
ME: Not yet, but I would assume he would slip right back into the role he held before he moved to Ireland. As chairman of the Steelers, he was an advisor to his son Art, and worked on many league issues. He was, for example, chairman of the Hall of Fame committee. He also has remained an advisor to commissioner Roger Goodell.
--- YOU: Three-parter: Do you think Todd Haley is, as has been reported, on some short lists for head coach openings around the league? Will he take a job if it's offered? And who would be next in line as OC if he does?
ME: Purely a guess because I haven’t talked to anyone about it, but Haley still has supporters with the Cardinals. If the job is a decent one, he’d be crazy to turn it down. Kirby Wilson was in line to become the team’s next offensive coordinator before his injuries in the fire at home, and he has recovered nicely.
--- YOU: I really don't understand how the Steelers could miss so badly on Kraig Urbik. They gave up on him so quickly as a top pick...yet they hold onto guys who don't seem to have it. It is a shame. I always thought he would turn out to be the best of the 3 3rd round picks from that year. What did they not see in him? They preached position flexibility and he seems to have it in Buffalo. Urbik looks like he will be a better player than Ziggy Hood. Yes, hindsight is 20/20. But this was a big mistake for a team stuggling with the O-Line year after year.
ME: Yes it was, and the Bills just signed him to a four-year contract extension through 2016 for $13.3 million, including a $3.5 million signing bonus. It’s a nice deal, but not what any good guard should get. The Steelers cut him two years ago.
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