The former teammates joked about the play that made them football immortals
Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris, the principals of the Immaculate Reception,” re-teamed Friday night at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Harris, who spent his career as a running back, joined his former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback for a segment of The Terry Bradshaw Show, which hit the Big B’s Music Box theater Friday night.
Recently voted the greatest play ever as part of the NFL’s current 100th anniversary celebration, the still-controversial sequence was a last-second miracle that found Harris scoring the winning touchdown in a 1972 AFC divisional playoff game against the Oakland Raiders after making a near-impossible, shoe-top grab of a Bradshaw pass that had bounced off Raiders’ defensive back, the late Jack Tatum.
Almost a half-century later, Raiders’ fans continue to insist either the ball never touched Tatum but was instead deflected by Steeler John Fuqua, or that Harris did not cleanly field the ball before it touched the ground (or both; either would have resulted in a dead ball—and the Raiders advancing in the playoffs).
During their brief time onstage, the always-impish Bradshaw chided Harris for having “the worst hands I ever seen” and jokingly suggested to his pal that he had “trapped” the ball. When Bradshaw asked Harris point-blank if he had made a legitimate catch, Harris shot back, “My lips are sealed!”
Beyond the crowd-pleasing “Immaculate Reception” shtick, Bradshaw’s song-and-story program proved the Fox NFL-coverage linchpin to be both a surprisingly polished comedian and an even more unexpectedly facile singer.
He has a clear and manly set of pipes that reside in the same general sonic neighborhood as those possessed by the likes of Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. Bradshaw may not play in that exalted league, but there’s no question he knows his way around a tune, be it the playful show-opener, Brooks & Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” or the earnest rendition of Hank Williams’ iconic country lament, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” All of the musical numbers were impressively delivered by a supporting ensemble that featured a crackerjack six-piece, band and two female backup singers who collectively proved equally deft at country and blues-rock.
On the comedy front, Bradshaw, a Louisiana native who wears his good-ol’-boy persona like a second skin, consistently scored with his unabashed opinions (of football and its players; he was otherwise entirely non-topical) and consistently entertaining, often self-deprecating anecdotes. He drew hearty laughs when he mocked what he described as the currently in-vogue “dink-dink-dink” style of offense in which a quarterback has a dozen completions “for 47 yards.” And he likewise scored with an extended riff in which he humorously confessed to having a man-crush on Patriots’ megastar QB Tom Brady. All of his routines displayed top-notch comedic timing on the part of the star.
Bradshaw also made it a point to note that Borgata’s Music Box was hardly packed to the rafters—so I will, too:
The Terry Bradshaw Show may not be high art, but it is a breezy, fun and well-executed piece of show business from a beloved entertainer that deserves a much larger audience.