40th Anniversary of “The Immaculate Reception”
NFL Countdown (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET, ESPN)
Sunday, Dec. 23 will mark the 40th anniversary of “The Immaculate Reception,” one of the most memorable moments in NFL history – the improbable 60-yard touchdown catch by Steelers Hall-of-Fame running back Franco Harris that gave the franchise its first playoff victory. Attending the game was Jim Baker, a then-26 year-old Steelers fan. Baker, recognizing the importance of the moment, ran on the field and wrestled the ball away from a pile of Steelers fans. He has kept that ball for forty years and refused generous offers to sell it. Jeremy Schaap recounts the history of the “Immaculate Reception” and introduces the caretaker of the most famous ball in NFL history.
“You kind of reflect and say, ‘Well, where did it begin? Where did it start?’ And, you look back at the year 1972, which was an unbelievable year for Pittsburgh, and then you look at this play.” – Franco Harris, on how the “Immaculate Reception” launched the Steelers Dynasty of the 1970s
“Bradshaw was forced to duck and run and roll out to his right. A few minutes later I could hear Jack Tatum’s feet. A few seconds later, I could hear him breathing. I knew he was close. I knew it was going to be a collision. The final thing I heard was him breathing. Bradshaw looked at me and let the ball go.” –John “Frenchy” Fuqua, on the moments before the “Immaculate Reception,” when he was hit by Raiders’ safety Jack Tatum, jarring the ball lose toward Harris
“That ball brings back times, memories, something you just don’t throw away. You can’t give it up.” – Jim Baker, on why he’s refused offers to sell the “Immaculate Reception” football.
On Thanksgiving, the O’Donnell family of Lowell, Mass. gathered to celebrate the day, marking a year of despair and determination, fear and recovery. Last autumn, a day after watching his son TJ wrestle his way to a world title and gold medal at the World Police and Fire games, Tod O’Donnell fell at home, suffering a brain bleed. He would emerge from a coma, and fight to learn to walk and talk again during a recovery that stretched on for months. Tod was carried back to his life on the power of the two words he had instilled in his wrestling sons: “No quit.” Tom Rinaldi reports.
“I held his hand. I got right up to his face, and I said, ‘Hey, don’t, you’re an O’Donnell, we don’t quit.’” – TJ O’Donnell, on motivating his father during rehabilitation
“I was on death’s door. That was the motto that we had moved forward with: ‘No quit.’ You always keep moving forward, and you never move back.” – Tod O’Donnell, on the importance of the mantra
Kevin McKinley and O.J. Murdock were friends and shared big NFL dreams before ending their lives. Liz Merrill writes: “South Carolina teammates would come to call Carlos Thomas, Kenny McKinley and O.J. Murdock the Three Amigos, and it was surprising how they bonded so quickly. When one of them picked a fight with a 315-pound lineman, the other two freshmen jumped into the scrum. “Brothers stick together,” Thomas said.
For the Indianapolis Colts, this has been what many would call a surprising season. The Colts have not only been riding on the shoulders of their star rookie QB Andrew Luck, but they have also been inspired by the strength of their head coach Chuck Pagano. Fighting leukemia, Pagano has served as a beacon of hope and inspiration to people far beyond the confines of the Colts locker room. T.J. Quinn has the story of how Pagano serves as an inspiration to many.
Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is a beacon of hope for people facing their own battles with leukemia Wayne Drehs reports
Namath on Sanchez – “Not with the Jets”
Mike & Mike in the Morning (Wednesday, Dec. 19, ESPN Audio)
New York Jets legend Joe Namath discussed his present team, its current leadership, and quarterback Mark Sanchez’ future. Listen to audio
“I feel bad for him. (Executive VP/GM Mike) Tannenbaum hasn’t helped that offensive group the last couple of years. They don’t have a deep offensive line. They don’t have a wide receiver corps – he lost his best receiver.
“He’s not as bad as he’s played this year. I think he’s going to be around for a long time. For his sake, I hope it’s not with the Jets.”
Pitchers to Try Out Padded Caps
By the end of this week, at least a dozen big league pitchers will have padded caps to try out as Major League Baseball looks into ways to improve protection against head injuries from line drives, according to a protective equipment manufacturer. William Weinbaum reports.
Wednesday, Don Van Natta Jr. gave young journalists advice via Twitter. To view post, click here. (Full compilation of Tweets at bottom of post)