RIP Franco

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(Season’s) Greetings From The Booth!

Happy Holidays, everyone! It’s nice to be back in the Booth after a week of Christmas vacation, especially when that week included a power outage and a tree branch causing about $4000 to my vehicle. So much for a nice, relaxing vaycay!

I was sad to hear of the passing of the great Pittsburgh Steeler running back, Franco Harris, who died this week at age 72. His death comes just 2 days shy of the 50th anniversary of arguably the most controversial play in NFL history (and maybe the greatest). The play, known as The Immaculate Reception, is certainly the most dissected play in league history, as it has been examined frame-by-frame more often than the  Zapruder film.

That play, which involved Franco, came at the end of an AFC playoff game between the Steelers and the Oakland Raiders on December 23, 1972. The Raiders had taken a 7-6 lead on a 30-yard run by quarterback Kenny Stabler, a lead that looked safe. With just 40 seconds left and no time-outs, Pittsburgh QB Terry Bradshaw threw a desperation pass intended for John Fuqua at the Oakland 35. The ball, Fuqua, and the Raiders’ Jack Tatum all arrived at once, and in the ensuing collision, the ball took a crazy carom backwards, where it was scooped out of the air by Harris, who streaked into the end zone for the improbable TD.

In the aftermath of the play, amidst the bedlam of Three Rivers Stadium, the officials conferred to determine whether the catch was legal. In 1972, the rule was that the ball couldn’t be touched by 2 offensive players consecutively without a defensive player touching the ball in-between. After the long confab, the catch was rule legal and the touchdown stood.  The Immaculate Reception, as it has come to be known, is considered to be the catalyst for the Steeler’s dynasty, which included four Super Bowl wins in the 1970s.

I remember watching that play as it happened in my Grandma Minnie’s living room, and as I look back on the play, I’m not sure we’ll ever witness anything like it ever again. With replay, and high-definition technology, any play can be broken down to the most minute detail, all but eliminating controversy. Not to mention, the aforementioned “no touch” rule was rescinded years ago. In a way, that’s too bad. Human error in sports with regard to officiating has added to the lore of the game. It’s “part of the game,” as the saying goes. We’re still talking about The Immaculate Reception 50 years later, and had replay been allowed in 1972, maybe we wouldn’t be.

In closing, Franco Harris did so much more on and off the field beyond his most famous reception. While active, he came close to breaking Jim Brown’s then-NFL rushing record, eventually falling less than 200 yards shy of the mark. Of course, he was an integral part of the aforementioned Super Bowl titles in the 70s. And, his charity work in the Steel City is well documented.  One play does not a Hall-Of-Famer make. This weekend, his number 32 will be retired, only the third Steeler to have that distinction. But he will always be remembered for a play that we’re still talking about 50 years later.

Until the next visit from The Booth, Rest In Peace Franco Harris!




Unrealized Potential

Greetings from The Booth!

It’s starting to feel like Spring is settling in for the long haul, but you know what they say: if you don’t like the weather in Virginia, wait 5 minutes and you’ll get something else. Still, the mid-70’s temps feel good to my ever-aging joints and bones. On the SU scene, baseball stumbled a bit recently, but hopefully is back to it’s winning ways. Both lacrosse programs are having great seasons, and everyone else is at the very least, competitive. For a complete “State Of The Hornets” update, head to the podcast section and check out the latest Sports Dogs Podcast, where I’m joined by Shenandoah University’s Scott Musa.

By now you’ve heard about the tragic death this past weekend of NFL quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The former Washington QB was training with his current team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was killed while walking across a busy interstate. He was just shy of his 25th birthday.

For whatever reason, Haskins wasn’t the franchise quarterback that Washington had hoped he would be. The Ohio State product captured the eye of owner Dan Snyder, although several personnel people in the organization warned against taking someone with basically one year under his belt as the Buckeye’s starter. That one season in Columbus was a great one, though, as Haskins threw for well over 4-thousand yards and 50 touchdowns against Big Ten defenses, setting conference records in the process and leading his team to a 13-1 record and a spot in the Rose Bowl.

But sometimes you can achieve too much too soon. Those in the Washington organization cited Haskins’ lack of work ethic, undisciplined play, and lack of leadership as sources of frustration. One example is the time when Haskins was called on to close out a Washington victory, but was busy celebrating with fans in the stands. Haskins was eventually replaced by Taylor Heinicke and released by the club after less than two seasons.

Now is certainly not the time to pile on as several national pundits have done, but a time to grieve for the young man and his unrealized potential. By all accounts, Haskins was making good with his second chance in the NFL. His head coach in Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin, said that Haskins was working hard, and with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, certainly had a chance at moving up from his third-string spot on the club. Hopefully, Haskins had realized that raw talent alone isn’t enough to succeed in the National Football League. It’s quite possible that Dwayne Haskins could have learned from his time in Washington, and become a star at the professional level.

Sadly, now we’ll never know.

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!





SABF names Terry Bradshaw as Grand Marshall

Shenandoah Apple Blossom 2022

The 95th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival’s Grand Marshal is Terry Bradshaw.

The NFL Hall of Famer and four time Super Bowl Champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers will finally get to attend the festivities after initially committing in 2020 and again in 2021.

In addition to his playing career, Terry also is an analyst with the NFL on FOX and has appearances in numerous movies and TV shows.

He also has his own reality show, “The Bradshaw Bunch.”

Your best chance to see Terry is at the Sports Breakfast or leading the Grand Feature parade.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Sports: Thursday, August 5, 2021

Phils Take 3rd Straight From Nats, O’s Falter Vs Yanks, Olympic Update

Rhys Hoskins drove in 3 Phillies runs with a double and a 2-run homer in a 9-5 Philadelphia win over the Nationals last night. Didi Gregorious also went deep for the Phils, who beat the Nats for the third consecutive night. 21 year-old Luis Garcia hit 2 home runs for the Nats, who try to avoid the sweep this afternoon against Philadelphia. Air time is 3:35 on Sports Radio 1450.

The New York Yankees broke a 3-all tie with 5 runs in the 7th inning, then added 2 more in the 8th for a 10-3 win against the Orioles. Cedric Mullins went 2-for-4 to lead the Birds, who are off today.

At the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, in track & field, Americans Kenny Bednarek and Noah Lyles won silver & bronze respectively in the men’s 200 meter sprint. Favorite Grant Holloway of the USA had to settle for silver in the men’s 110 meter hurdles, while American Ryan Crouser won the gold in the shot put. The US leads the overall medal count with 84.

And, the NFL Preseason kicks off tonight with the Hall Of Fame Game in canton, Ohio. The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Dallas Cowboys.