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Making the selection

While Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris is celebrating the 50th anniversary of when he was selected by the Steelers in the 1972 NFL Draft, he will also help one of the newest Steelers players celebrate their selection by the black and gold when he announces the team's first round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft from Las Vegas on Thursday night.

Harris will be among NFL legends, celebrity fans and others who have been selected league-wide to announce their team's selection, and he can't wait to call out the name of the newest Steelers player.

"I am excited about the draft this year and to be able to do this," said Harris. "It really takes me back. It's special to me this year because this is the 50th anniversary of myself being drafted by the Steelers. How special is that. How lucky was I. It makes it very special. It was an exciting day. It was hard to grasp for myself."

While looking back on his draft day now is exciting, when it first happened, he wasn't exactly thrilled to be heading to Pittsburgh. After four years of playing college football just a few hours away at Penn State, Harris said he was hoping to be drafted by a team in a warm weather climate where he could expand his horizons.

But it all worked out in the end.

"I wasn't excited about coming to the Pittsburgh Steelers," said Harris. "I told some of my Penn State buddies I would like to go anywhere but Pittsburgh and Green Bay. So, you can imagine how I felt when I got the call that day.

"But how wonderful did it work out. Coming in as a rookie was exciting but nerve-racking, not knowing what to expect, how things would go. It was quite a rookie season for me. The season was just incredible for me personally and the team. The season was incredible."

It was a season that will forever be known for the 'Immaculate Reception,' that famous catch Harris made in a win over the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game in 1972. And it helped to change the path the Steelers were on, making those drafted now have a completely different feeling when they put on the black and gold.

"The last 50 years have been incredible for the Steelers," said Harris. "You look at the first 40 when the team was one of the worst in the league. Then you look at the last 50 and we are one of the best of all-time. We have one of the best fan bases of any team in the NFL. Steelers Nation is everywhere around the country. We have a legacy. It's just incredible what has transpired in the last 50 years.

"Now these young guys are happy to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's nice to see the excitement, enthusiasm and expectation of being drafted by the Steelers and have Steelers Nation behind them.

"For the rookies, it's an exciting journey. They need to make sure they prepare themselves to come into the NFL and just be ready."

Harris won't be the only one making one of the Steelers draft pick announcements. Receiver Chase Claypool, the team's second round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, will announce the team's second round pick on Friday night from Las Vegas.

Steelers fans Paulina Aguado and Mariana Peniche, who are from Mexico City, won a Steelers Nation en Espanol Sweepstakes and will be in Las Vegas to represent Steelers Nation in the Inner Circle at the draft and will announce the Steelers sixth round pick.

Season ticket holder David Harper from Greensburg, Pa., along with his wife Karen, won the opportunity to announce one of the team's seventh round picks at the Thank You Fans game this past season. Harper was eligible to win because of his perfect attendance at games during the 2021 season.

Steelers' legends Rocky Bleier and John Banaszak will announce a pick on Saturday, even though it won't be one of the Steelers pick. The two will announce the 240th overall pick, which belongs to the Washington Commanders, to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Purple Heart. The announcement is being made in conjunction with the National Flag Foundation and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) and will air during the broadcast. Bleier is a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient after being wounded in combat in Vietnam and Banaszak is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. They will be joined by MOPH National Commander James McCormick, a multiple Purple Heart recipient, for the announcement of the pick.

"We are honored to represent our nation's veteran community to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the inception of the Purple Heart award at this year's NFL Draft," said Bleier. "Our nation's wounded veterans have sacrificed their full measure of devotion for our freedoms, and they deserve our thanks and recognition on this day and every day. We are grateful for the National Football League's continued support of America's combat wounded veteran community and for helping National Flag Foundation's efforts to mark this important anniversary."

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