‘Insanely Disrespectful’: NFL Network Lambasted After Cutting To Commercial During Franco Harris Tribute

Saturday night in Pittsburgh was nearly perfect for football fans who filled Acrisure Stadium to watch the action and remember an NFL great, but those watching the NFL Network’s broadcast of the much-anticipated halftime ceremony soon became incensed. 

The Steelers Christmas Eve matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders was more than a game — it was a memorial for former running back Franco Harris, who tragically died last week at 72 just days before the celebration of his Hall of Fame career. 

At halftime, the broadcast showed Harris’ widow Dana Dokmanovich and son Dok on the field holding his No. 32 jersey before the stadium announcer instructed fans to turn their attention to the jumbotron for a special video tribute to Harris. That’s when the NFL Network decided to cut to commercial. 

WATCH:

Viewers saw the Franco Harris jersey retirement ceremony. But when a video tribute was played at Acrisure Stadium, NFL Network went to commerical. pic.twitter.com/lqHGwRteLm

— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 25, 2022

Dozens of NFL fans and commentators took to social media to voice their displeasure with the football network’s badly timed commercial break. 

“I think @nflnetwork should issue an apology to everyone watching the Steelers game,” Pittsburgh-area sports reporter and anchor Emily Giangreco tweeted. “To go to commercial and not show the video montage of Franco Harris’ jersey retirement is insanely disrespectful. Even if it was a mistake, you should have immediately dumped out of the break.”

“What a terrible gaffe by NFL Network … cutting away to commercial right after the stadium announcer introduces Franco Harris highlights on the scoreboard. Really bad decision,” former news sports director Jim Crandell said

Spectrum News reporter and Steelers fan Andrew Havranek called the move “insulting,” saying the NFL Network’s commercial break cut out an important memorial to Harris. 

The Steelers capped off the memorable night with a fourth-quarter comeback, beating the Raiders on a last-minute touchdown when quarterback Kenny Pickett found fellow rookie George Pickens with a 15-yard dart to the back of the end zone.

Harris, who played his college ball at Penn State, began his career with the Steelers in 1972 after being picked in the first round of the NFL draft. He was named offensive rookie of the year and went on to be a nine-time Pro Bowler and MVP of Super Bowl IX. But it was the miraculous shoestring catch of a deflected pass from Terry Bradshaw during his rookie year in a playoff game against the Oakland Raiders that remained his defining career moment.

Harris retired in 1985 and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame five years later. Despite his legendary exploits, Harris was famously humble.

“You see, during that era, each player brought their own little piece with them to make that wonderful decade happen,” Harris said during his Hall of Fame speech in 1990. “Each player had their strengths and weaknesses, each their own thinking, each their own method, just each, each had their own. But then it was amazing, it all came together, and it stayed together to forge the greatest team of all times.”

Greg Wilson contributed to this report. 

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