The NFL fumbled big time on Saturday night when it spoiled a tribute to Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris — in more ways than one.
The most glaring boo-boo came as the Steelers retired No. 32 during halftime of their game with the Las Vegas Raiders. Harris, a longtime Steelers running back who died at age 72 last week, was being honored in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of his “Immaculate Reception,” one of the most iconic plays in NFL history
But some say the NFL Network alienated Steelers fans when it cut to a commercial before the end of the tribute ceremony, the culmination of which was a stirring video tribute to Harris.
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But that wasn’t the only error.
As noted by the website TotalProSports.com, the NFL issued a tweet remembering Harris with a photo of a giant banner inside the team’s stadium bearing the number 32, Harris’ number. The tweet read, “Franco’s Italian Army,” and included an emoji of hands forming a heart.
The tweet was intended to recognize Harris’ fan base. Steelers fans of Italian-American descent dubbed themselves that because Harris’ mother was Italian.
The problem was that the NFL’s tweet captured a flag unfurled beside the banner of Harris’ jersey number — a Mexican flag.
It’s unclear why a Mexican flag was placed alongside Harris’ number, or who put it there. But the NFL quickly deleted its tweet.
Still, given the NFL’s aggressive promotion of wokeness in recent years, it shouldn’t be surprising that someone may have pranked the league or that NFL staff couldn’t tell the difference between the flags of the two nations.
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Harris died just two days before the 50th anniversary of the moment when he plucked a deflected pass out of the air in the closing seconds of a playoff game against the Raiders and raced to a game-winning touchdown.
Harris was a rookie at the time, and his play was seen as a spark that ignited the Steelers’ dominance of the NFL in the 1970s, when they won four Super Bowls in six years after years of being a league doormat.