You may not know the name Mike Silverstein, but you probably know all about Franco Harris. It was 40 years ago this month that Harris scored one of the NFL’s most memorable and important touchdowns, helping launch Chuck Noll’s Steelers toward greatness. Silverstein was very much involved on that day—as a hustling reporter who was in the middle of the action, both in the press box and on the field.
Now, Silverstein is selling the dressing room pass from the 1972 playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders that became known simply as The Immaculate Reception. Autographed by Harris, John “Frenchy” Fuqua and “Mean Joe” Greene, it may not be the most valuable piece of football history ever offered, but it comes with an interesting back story. If it sells, Silverstein is donating the money to a special charity.
Silverstein was covering the game for ABC radio, and is known for being the first person to tell Steelers owner Art Rooney Sr. about the winning play. Rooney had left his seat to get on an elevator on his way to the Steelers locker room when the pass from Terry Bradshaw bounced off the Raiders’ Jack Tatum and was scooped up by Harris, who ran for the winning score. Silverstein was also the first reporter to reach Harris once the game was over, running to find him on the field and ask a question that was sent via telephone to ABC Radio News and played on air even before NBC-TV had a chance to talk live with Harris.
Proceeds from the auction are being donated to Transitional Services Inc., of Pittsburgh, an organization that helps those with mental disabilities.
Silverstein’s brother was born with Down Syndrome and lived at one of TSI’s centers for 26 years.
“We need to take a second look at mental health issues,” Silverstein told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If the government can’t do anything about it, then we need to step to the plate and do something. More importantly, I want to raise consciousness that there are organizations like TSI that are working everyday trying to help people that otherwise can’t help themselves.”