Talk:Immaculate Reception

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Two Issues[edit]

First: (citation 23) does not support that "Fuqua knows exactly what happened that day but will never tell" - in fact the citation seems dubious for use here since it says the key point is if the football touched Fuqua, which is actually irrelevant. It only matters if it touched Tatum or not.

Second: The entire controversy section gets into physics and really oversimplifies despite it's complexity. Since Tatum was travelling the direction the ball bounced and Fuqua was travelling perpendicular to this, Tatum clearly imparted momentum to the football, that is obvious. But the article is written as if Tatum could not possibly have imparted this momentum except by touching the football, even though he could have done it by ramming into Fuqua's body while Fuqua was touching the ball. Statalyzer (talk) 08:23, 21 March 2017 (UTC)


This article could use an image of the play. Perhaps even a diagram. KyuuA4 17:46, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Name Source[edit]

Two things: first, one thing missing from this article is the source of the nickname "Immaculate Reception". I believe it was a Pittsburgh newspaper columnist, but I'm not sure. Second, I've never heard of "illegal touching" as a penalty. I believe when two or more offensive players touch a forward pass once it's left the QB's hands, the call is "illegal forward pass". - Scooter 17:16, 15 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I found the following explanation here: "The rules of the time stated that two offensive players could not touch a pass in succession...." This suggests that the rules have changed and we can't simply refer to the current rules.
The Steelers website has this to say:
The wording from the 1972 NFL rule book that allowed Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" touchdown to stand: "If a defensive player touches pass first, or simultaneously with or subsequent to its having been touched by only one eligible offensive player, then all offensive players become and remain eligible."
It's nice to have the 1972 wording... except that it seems to me be the 1972 wording of an irrelevant provision. Eligibility isn't the point. Other sources agree with the first view I quoted, that two offensive players couldn't touch the ball in succession. If the ball touched Tatum then Fuqua and was then caught, sure, Harris is an eligible receiver but there's still no TD. I think the Steelers are blowing a little smoke here. They're not quoting the rule that the Raiders said should apply.
Eligibility IS the point. The only reason the play would not be a touchdown is if Harris was ineligible to touch the forward pass (which was still a forward pass even after being deflected backward). If he was ineligible, then either they would call a penalty or the pass would be incomplete. Statalyzer (talk) 08:23, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
Incidentally, under the current rules, Harris's catch was legal regardless of whether it was Tatum or Fuqua who deflected the ball: "Any eligible offensive player may catch a forward pass. If a pass is touched by one offensive player and touched or caught by a second eligible offensive player, pass completion is legal. Further, all offensive players become eligible once a pass is touched by an eligible receiver or any defensive player." [1]
As for the terminology, it might have been called "illegal touching". That term is still used if, for example, an offensive lineman is the first person to touch a forward pass. Nevertheless, when I Google for a description of the play that uses this phrase (by [

searching] for Fuqua + Tatum + Harris + "illegal touching"), nothing comes up except Wikipedia and its mirrors. My guess is that "illegal forward pass" is incorrect because the pass itself is OK. Nothing illegal has yet happened as the ball sails toward Fuqua. Another possible description: A pro-Raiders website says that the play "will forever be remembered as an incomplete pass in the minds of the Raider faithful", while another says, "Incredibly for 10 minutes there was no signal. No touchdown, incompletion, nothing." If the officials had concluded that Fuqua was the last player to touch the ball before Harris caught it, perhaps they should have ruled it incomplete. I'm just going to fudge and say that Oakland would have gained possession and the win, which is clearly true whatever term would have been used back then. JamesMLane 06:34, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

You are correct that "illegal forward pass" is the wrong term - that is for a pass that is illegally thrown at the moment the pass begins. Statalyzer (talk) 08:23, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
The Steelers website is citing the right rule, but just not enough of it. Here's more: "Team A [offensive] players on either end of line (other than a center, guard or tackle) or who are at least (legally) one yard behind line at snap, are eligible [to touch or catch a forward pass] ... unless and until one of them is the first player to touch pass, in which case, he only, continues to be eligible for A. However, if a B [defensive] player touches pass first, or simultaneously with or subsequent to its having been touched by only one eligible A player, then all A players become and remain eligible." 1971 Official NFL Rules, Rule 7, Section 5, Article 2, Item 1, p. 44 (awkward language and strange commas in original). In other words, Harris starts as eligible, but loses eligibility if Fuqua touches the ball first, unless Tatum then also touches the ball. To make it even plainer, the only way that the reception was illegal is if only Fuqua touched the ball prior to Franco's catch. If only Tatum touched it, or if Fuqua and Tatum both touched it (in any order), then it was a legal catch. The article in its current form is incorrect in this regard, and I will fix it. -- Froggy88 (talk) 18:28, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

Who cares, it happened!

  • I find it humorous that the nickname "Immaculate Reception" applies to such a messy, convoluted incident of scuffles, bounces, shoe-tops etc... anything but immaculate...


I've never heard of the uncited comment by Tatum that the ball did not bounce off of him. I don't have a source, but I recall reading that he said, years later, that it happened so fast that he couldn't recall whether he had struck the ball or not. There is the possibility that he does in fact know, but is denying it simply to avoid controversy. This would be a good quote to hunt down.

Second, the Madden quote was from a Monday Night Football game on the 30-year anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, a game between the Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 23, 2002. He stated the opinion mentioned in the article when asked by Al Michaels for his thoughts on the Immaculate Reception. He may have said this at other occasions as well but this is the one time he said it that I remember.

Villapiano was definitely clipped; there is absolutely clear video evidence for this. I don't know how you're supposed to cite that though.

-- Was it Villapiano or Ted Hendricks? I remember that "half-speed" quote, and I'm almost certain Hendricks is saying it. The next part of the quote is "Now, I STILL can make the play, when the tight end -- smart player -- comes from behind and clips me ... "

Lastly, though this may be more of a personal beef . . . LoCasale's comments were said either as a joke or out of bitterness. It should be presented as such in the article so someone doesn't think that he said so as a legitimate source to the events that transpired.

By the way, does anyone feel like the Post-Gazette article about the CMU physics professor could or should be moved into the Controversy section? -Mithunc 11:34, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

From the New York Times article reporting the game ([2], dated December 23, 1972):

As far as Tatum is concerned, the play was illegal and the touchdown fraudulent. He said that he and Fuqua got to the ball at the same time. "All I was trying to do was knock the ball loose," he said. "I touched the man [Fuqua], but not the ball." The Raiders, however, were not going to make a big issue out of the result. John Madden, the Oakland coach, in his post-game comments indicated from his view the football had indeed touched Tatum.

Immaculate Deception mentioned twice[edit]

Why is the 1978 The Holy Roller Oakland Raiders play vs. San Diego Chargers claimed as the "Immaculate Deception?" This article also claims the title in the first paragraph. Which is it?? 12:11, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Name of the Violation[edit]

The name of the violation may (or may not) have been "double touching," a term employed by John Madden when discussing the play on Sunday Night Football on December 30, 2007. (talk) 02:51, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Unencyclopedic Tone[edit]

The verbiage in this quote hardly strikes me as encyclopedic:

The play itself would start another, rather unique rivalry between the Raiders and the rest of the league, as Oakland fans have long thought that the league has wanted to screw the Raiders (and specifically Al Davis) over. NFL Network in 2007 ranked the "Raiders versus the World" as the biggest feud in NFL history[20].

I am sure there is a better way of expressing this concept than the slang term "screw . . . over." --Nonstopdrivel (talk) 01:54, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

"It was later said..."[edit]

The current article contains the (unsourced) line, "It was later said that Swearingen was scared of backlash from the Steelers fans if he had ruled the other way." So what? Just about anything could be "later said" about the play. Absent any evidence that Swearingen was scared or acted scared or said he was scared, or even that the accusation was made at the time, it all just sounds like sour grapes, part of a good story that the Raiders and their fans tell, but not really something that belongs in an encyclopedia. I lean toward removing this sentence, but then I'm a Steelers fan, so I'd thought I'd put this out here for comment before yanking it. --Froggy88 (talk) 18:04, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

Odds and Ends[edit]

Having looked at the film clips of the play over and over again recently (in the hopes of someday making a diagram for use here), I accumulated a bunch of miscellaneous observations that don't belong in the article, but which I thought might interest someone. First it's amazing how much misinformation on the basic facts there is out there regarding the Immaculate Reception. There are articles out there that state: 1) that Barry Pearson was running a post pattern; 2) that he was open but Bradshaw didn't see him; and 3) that Tatum broke off from covering him to go after Frenchy. Score 0 for 3 on those "facts." McMakin was the guy running the deep pattern from right to left, who Tatum left off covering in order to go after Frenchy and the ball. Pearson was running a down and in across the middle of the field from left to right, about 15 yards downfield. He was covered (and covered pretty well, as far as I can see) by Willie Brown, at least I think it was Brown. I don't know whether Pearson was the primary receiver, as the article states, but he would have been the natural target for just picking up the first down. The other receiver out there for the Steelers was Ron Shanklin, who was running a deep route to the right and was well covered by George Atkinson. (That's some defensive backfield that the Raiders had in those days.)
Then there's Villapiano. He says (besides saying that he's sure that the ball bounced off of Fuqua): 1) that Franco was just lazily jogging half speed up the field; 2) that because he (Villipiano) was running toward the play the ricocheting ball bounced over him and to that laggard Franco; and 3) that as he was on his way to tackle Franco McMakin gave him "the biggest clip ever." Give him 0.5 out of 3. Actually it was Villapiano, not Franco, who slowed up when he saw that the ball was going beyond him. Until then Villapiano was right on Franco's heels. Once he slowed up there was no way that the deflected ball was going to go over his head. However, because Franco had to veer to his left to make the catch, Villipiano was able to recover somewhat, that is until McMakin blocked him. It's not clear to me if this was a clip (maybe I'm just biased), but it's certainly not a blatant one. McMakin initially makes contact with the side of Villipiano, though as he fell to the ground it looks as though he might have made contact with the back of Villipiano's right leg. Even without the block I'm not sure that Villipiano would have been able to catch Harris. He was not nearly as well positioned as Warren, who had the angle on Franco.
Finally, talk about your premature celebrations, not only did Warren raise his arms in triumph after Tatum's hit, but linebacker Gerald Irons stood there looking at Tatum and Fuqua, clapping his hands, until Harris was almost past him. By the time he realized that something was going on, he was out of the play. Had he kept his eye on the ball, he probably would have been in the best position to tackle Harris. At the very least he would have slowed him up. - Froggy88 (talk) 23:51, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

File:ImmaculateReceptionStatue.jpg.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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Time Remaining After Play[edit]

The current article states that time ran out as Franco Harris scored the winning touchdown. In fact, there was 5 seconds remaining when he scored. NBC feed confirms this with Curt Gowdy stating 5 seconds remaining after the play. I clocked the time on the NBC feed from start of play (with 22 seconds remaining), until the score, and I count 15 seconds. It's possible that an additional 2 seconds ran off for the official scorer to stop the clock, but time did not run out on this play. I will put up citation needed so someone can offer citation to substantiate time running out. Otherwise, at some point the article should state 5 seconds were remaining after this play. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:3A75:DA00:44CF:D380:D525:D243 (talk) 18:53, 25 December 2016 (UTC)