PITTSBURGH (AP)Franco Harris, the Hall of Fame running back whose heads-up thinking authored the ”Immaculate Reception,” considered the most iconic play in NFL history, has died. He was 72.
Harris’ son, Dok, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his father died overnight. No cause of death was given.
His death comes two days before the 50th anniversary of the play that provided the jolt that helped transform the Steelers from also-rans into the NFL’s elite and three days before Pittsburgh is scheduled to retire his No. 32 during a ceremony at halftime of its game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Harris had been busy in the run-up to the celebration, doing media interviews on Monday to talk about a moment to which he is forever linked.
Even in retirement, Harris remained a fixture in the community and a team whose standard of excellence began with a young kid from New Jersey who saw the ball in the air and kept on running. It wasn’t uncommon for Harris to stop by the Steelers’ practice facility to chat with players who weren’t even born before his fateful play.
Harris ran for 12,120 yards and won four Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s.
NEW YORK (AP) – The NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles had a league-best eight players, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, selected for the first Pro Bowl Games.
The league announced rosters for the NFC and AFC on Wednesday. Players from both conferences will compete in weeklong skills competitions culminated with a flag football game on Sunday, Feb. 5, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game in September.
Kansas City and Dallas each had seven players chosen for the Games. San Francisco and Baltimore are next with six. Only two teams – Jacksonville and Chicago – aren’t represented on the initial rosters.
Joining Hurts from the Eagles (13-1) are wide receiver A.J. Brown, running back Miles Sanders, right tackle Lane Johnson, center Jason Kelce, left guard Landon Dickerson, linebacker Haason Reddick and cornerback Darius Slay. Hurts, Sanders, Dickerson and Reddick are first-timers. It’s Kelce’s sixth, Slay’s fifth and Johnson’s fourth. Sanders and Reddick were selected as backups.
Patrick Mahomes is the AFC’s starting quarterback. Josh Allen and Joe Burrow are his backups. Kirk Cousins and Geno Smith are backing up Hurts.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Nick Foles will replace 37-year-old Matt Ryan as the Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback, interim coach Jeff Saturday announced.
The Colts will host the Chargers on Monday night.
Saturday made the move, four days after the Colts blew a 33-point lead in a 39-36 overtime loss at Minnesota – the largest comeback in NFL history. In Indy’s previous game, at Dallas, the Colts gave up 33 fourth-quarter points largely because of four turnovers.
The Colts (4-9-1) are hoping Foles can make more vertical plays and play with more efficiency than Ryan has this season. Ryan leads the NFL with 18 giveaways.
Foles has not taken a regular-season snap since Indy signed him as a backup during the offseason. He was the Super Bowl MVP when the Philadelphia Eagles won the world championship following the 2017 season.
NEW YORK (AP) – Aaron Judge was appointed captain of the New York Yankees, becoming the first team captain since Derek Jeter retired at the end of the 2014 season.
Judge, the reigning American League MVP, agreed to a $360 million, nine-year contract to remain in pinstripes.
As Judge pursued Roger Maris’ American League home run record and set a new mark with 62, some teammates started publicly lobbying for him to become captain, among them first baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Nestor Cortes.
New York had six previous captains in the Steinbrenner family era: Thurman Munson (1976-79), Graig Nettles (1982-84), Willie Randolph (1986-88), Ron Guidry (1986-89), Don Mattingly (1991-95) and Jeter (2003-14). Randolph was in the audience on Wednesday.
NEW YORK (AP) – In a wild twist overnight, Carlos Correa agreed to a $315 million, 12-year contract with the free-spending New York Mets after his pending deal with the San Francisco Giants came apart over an issue with his physical.
The agreement with the Mets was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was subject to a successful physical. Details were first reported by the New York Post.
Correa, an All-Star shortstop, would play third base for the Mets, with buddy Francisco Lindor remaining at shortstop.
Correa’s addition would increase the Mets’ luxury tax payroll next year to the $385 million range, putting them on track to pay a record tax of about $110 million – more than double the current high of $44 million set by the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers. The estimates would change if Correa’s deal contains deferred money or if New York trades players.
The Giants postponed a news conference Tuesday to introduce Correa after a medical concern arose during his physical, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. Correa and the Giants agreed on Dec. 13 to a $350 million, 13-year deal, subject to a successful physical, one of the people said. One person confirmed that Tuesday’s conference was put on hold because the sides were awaiting the results of testing. A second person said a medical issue was flagged during Correa’s physical.
NEW YORK (AP) – Gregg Popovich has been at the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony many times over the years, always there to show support for someone on the stage.
Next year, he may be there in a different capacity.
The NBA’s all-time winningest coach – who has quietly declined overtures from the Hall in the past – is among the list of prominent first-time nominees for the 2023 class released by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Also on the ballot for the first time: Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Dwyane Wade. They were all expected; Popovich was the biggest surprise on the list, since it’s never been clear until now when he would allow the Hall to list him as a candidate.
Also on the nominee list for the first time: the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s team, the 1982 Cheyney University women’s basketball team that became the first from a historically Black college or university to play for an NCAA title, and Miami coach Jim Larranaga – who recently won his 700th game and took George Mason on a historic run to the Final Four in 2006.
The finalists from the North American and Women’s committees for the Hall of Fame will be announced at NBA All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City on Feb. 17. The full class of Hall of Famers for 2023 will be announced at the NCAA Final Four in Houston on April 1, and enshrinement weekend will be Aug. 11 and 12 in Connecticut and the Hall’s home in Springfield, Massachusetts.