View Full Version : Fans flock to see new Franco statue

01-26-2009, 06:26 AM
Fans flock to see new Franco statue
By Paul Schofield
Monday, January 26, 2009

For Steelers fans, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center was the place to be Sunday afternoon.

Thousands of fans from as far away as Dallas and Shreveport, La., were there early to see the unveiling of a statue of Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception.

With Super Bowl XLIII a week away, many of Steeler Nation were there to celebrate the event with Harris and listen to him talk about the Steelers, past and present. Fans were able to get an autograph and a photo with the Super Bowl IX MVP.

Harris didn't make any predictions, but he said, "If any team should be the first team to win six titles, it should be the Pittsburgh Steelers. Over the course of history, no team has deserved it more or has proven themselves more than the Steelers."

Harris was part of the franchise's first four Super Bowl titles, but it was his catch in an AFC playoff game against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 23, 1972, that began his legacy and was the start of something special in Pittsburgh.

"This brings back memories of that 1972 season," Harris said. "We look at that season as the start of the incredible run that continues through today. Looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers going for an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl trophy, to me, makes this season even more special and makes it bigger every day.

"This team, for the last 36 years, has been pretty incredible, and the standard has been maintained at that level."

Harris said it's amazing what the Immaculate Reception has meant to Steelers fans.

"Way back then, we had no idea the effect this play would have on the Steeler Nation," Harris said. "And also, even though 1972 was a magic year, no way would we know what could happen over the next 36 years, that what was built and what continues to be built by the Rooney family is quite incredible."

Harris' statue, the 2009 AFC Championship trophy, Harris' Super Bowl IX ring and memorabilia from Super Bowl XL greet fans at the entrance of the sports museum.

Don Chambers and his wife, Kim, of Cranberry were the first people in line. They got there at 10 a.m. for the 1 p.m. ceremony.

"Franco is one of the best running backs ever. This is a dream to get to meet him," said Don Chambers, who recently moved back to the area from New Hampshire. "I had a lot of great battles with my friends who were New England fans, but they can't match Pittsburgh fans."

Jessica Cohlmeyer, 22, who recently moved to Pittsburgh from Dallas, said she became a Steelers fan after reading about the team. She couldn't wait to meet Harris.

"I hope I don't faint," Cohlmeyer said. "He's Mr. Immaculate. His play began this great run for the Steelers. It's the No. 1 and most memorable play in the NFL."

Cohlmeyer stood nervously, waiting to get a Terrible Towel signed and a photo with Harris.

"The Steelers play football the way it should be played," said Keith Myers, of Shreveport, who attended the ceremony with Cohlmeyer. "We're big Steelers fans."

Harris unveiled the statue of him making the shoestring catch, which brought back memories to Clarke brothers, Ellwood and John, who witnessed the Immaculate Reception.

John Clarke, 65, of Homestead, purchased tickets to that game for his siblings as a Christmas present.

"My sister, Mary, said it was the best Christmas present ever," Clarke said. "Who would have known that it was a ticket of the best play ever in NFL history?

"I was sitting the end zone, opposite of the big scoreboard. I saw the ball bounce up, but I didn't see him catch it. It just saw him running. We couldn't believe it."

Paul Schofield can be reached at pschofield@tribweb.com or 724-853-2109.

01-26-2009, 08:49 AM
How could you not want to see the new Franco statue.

01-26-2009, 09:28 AM
That awesome! I'd like ti see a photo of this.

01-26-2009, 09:35 AM
the Franco statue would be sweet. but nothing tops the Clemente and Stargell statue outside of PNC Park.

01-26-2009, 09:43 AM
I'll have get down there to see the statute up close and personal, but here's a pic I found of Franco's new statue! :tt02:


01-26-2009, 10:01 AM
Franco has a great beard. i'm so jealous. haha!

i met this man in real life...he's so polite and kind...also, very old!

i want to get a picture of me next to this statue...just for shits and gigs. =)

01-26-2009, 10:16 AM
i met this man in real life...he's so polite and kind...also, very old! haha!

I prefer to think of him as "mature", thank you very much. :flap:

01-26-2009, 10:25 AM
That is very cool. Thanks for posting a picture of the new Harris statue HG!

01-26-2009, 10:27 AM
It would be really nice 2 C it. Unfortunately, there is no pic whatsoever of that statue online. Only pic that I see a lot is this.


I prefer to think of him as "mature", thank you very much. :flap:

:wink02: That's what we all prefer, but ... :chuckle:

01-26-2009, 10:28 AM
i met this man in real life...he's so polite and kind...also, very old!

58 is old? :jawdrop: What planet did you fall down from?

Just remember - you're going to hit that age one day down the road.


01-26-2009, 10:32 AM
58 is old? :jawdrop: What planet did you fall down from?

Just remember - you're going to hit that age one day down the road.


Exactly...he's one of the best lookin' 58-year old men I know. :wink02:

01-26-2009, 10:55 AM
Love to know what goes though some European tourist's mind that hasn't seen the play and sees that statue called the "Immaculate Reception".