The NFL needs to avoid making a major mistake with the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ schedule on Thursday night when the 2022 league schedule is officially revealed.
Later this year — December 23 to be exact — the Steelers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception”.
In 1972, with Pittsburgh trailing the Oakland Raiders late in the fourth quarter at Three Rivers Stadium, Terry Bradshaw connected with fullback Franco Harris for a game-winning touchdown.
There’s obviously a lot more to the play than that sentence.
Bradshaw’s pass was originally intended for John Fuqua, but it bounced off either a Raiders defender or Fuqua’s hands and found its way to Franco.
The Raiders are on the Steelers’ schedule in 2022.
Surely you see where I’m heading with this.
There’s absolutely no reason this game shouldn’t be played on December 23.
If the Steelers don't play the Raiders at Heinz Field on Dec. 23 — the exact 50-year anniversary of the Immaculate Reception — I have grossly overestimated the NFL marketing people, schedule-makers and TV executives. We'll find out Thursday night.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) May 9, 2022
December 23 is on a Friday, which means Christmas Day falls on Sunday. We know the NFL plans to play three games on Christmas Day (one of those matchups has already been revealed, the Los Angeles Rams will take on the Denver Broncos). Most games that week will likely take place on Saturday (Christmas Eve).
The Raiders/Steelers matchup, however, would be a perfect standalone game on Friday. A lot of folks will be home on that Friday night, likely entertaining family who is visiting for the holidays. What better way to spend that time than watching a football game that has historical significance?
The “Immaculate Reception” is one of the most memorable moments in NFL history. It’s a moment that should be celebrated (I’m sure Raiders fans disagree). This is a layup for the NFL, though that doesn’t necessarily give me confidence that they’ll get this right.
We’ll find out on Thursday night if the NFL decides to take advantage of this unique opportunity or if they’ll be tone-deaf and schedule this game on Christmas Eve so it gets lost in the shuffle.
Featured image via USA TODAY Sports