Raiders

Daily Madden: 40 Years Later, Coach Still Questions Immaculate Reception

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Franco Harris #32 of the Pittsburgh Steelers sits on the sideline during a 1983 NFL season game. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Franco Harris #32 of the Pittsburgh Steelers sits on the sideline during a 1983 NFL season game. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

JohnMadden01-228 John Madden
John Madden began his pro football coaching career in 1967 as t...
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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most memorable and controversial plays in NFL history. The “Immaculate Reception” occurred in the AFL divisional playoff game between the Raiders and Steelers with 22 seconds remaining and the Raiders leading 7-6.

Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to running back John ‘Frenchy’ Fuqua, who collided with Raiders safety Jack Tatum. As the ball bounced off one or both players, Pittsburgh’s Franco Harris caught it before it hit the ground and ran it in for a touchdown, giving the Steelers the victory.

John Madden was on the sideline as the coach of the Raiders.

“Part of you would say in 40 years, something like that should go away, and it didn’t go away,” Madden told the KCBS morning crew.

“NFL Films did a special on it, and I didn’t cooperate. And the narrator of the show said I’m still so upset about it, I can’t talk about it. Of course, that’s not true. I just figured we’ve taken all the meat off the bone that there is.”

In the NFL rules at the time, an offensive player could not legally receive a ball if it first bounced directly off a teammate.

Madden said it’s still not clear that Fuqua wasn’t the only player the ball touched before it was caught by Harris.

“Here was my point. They didn’t call it a touchdown. And they were standing in the end zone, the officials, and discussing the play… They talk, talk, talk, talk, talk talk, and still haven’t said it’s a touchdown… This goes on 15 minutes.”

After an official spoke to someone by telephone, they finally signaled the TD.

“If you knew it was a touchdown, you should have called it,” Madden said. “If you didn’t call it, you didn’t know it was a touchdown. If you didn’t know it was a touchdown, how did you decide that it was? That’s all.” (7:49)

Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM. And catch John’s extra report at 9:15 a.m. Mondays and Fridays during the NFL season.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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