Steelers Hall of Fame Franco Harris dies at 72
In Pittsburgh Franco Harris, a Hall of Fame running back whose “Immaculate Reception,” regarded as the most famous play in NFL history, was the result of quick thinking, has passed away. He was 72.
Dok Harris, Harris’ son, confirmed Harris’ overnight passing to The Associated Press. The reason of death was not disclosed.
Two days before the 50th anniversary of the play that gave the Steelers the boost they needed to become great NFL contenders and three days before Pittsburgh was set to honour him by retiring his No. 32 during a ceremony at halftime of its game against the Las Vegas Raiders, he passed away.
In the 1970s, Harris led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories and 12,120 rushing yards, kicking off a dynasty thatDuring a last-second heave by Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw against Oakland in a playoff game in 1972, keep running.
With 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Pittsburgh down 7-6 on a fourth-and-10 from their own 40-yard line, Bradshaw drifted back and hit running back French Fuqua with a long pass. As a result of the collision between Fuqua and Jack Tatum, an Oakland defensive back, the ball careened back toward midfield in Harris’ direction.
Franco Harris won the Immaculate Reception in addition to playing in four Super Bowls and winning MVP honours in the Super Bowl IX. In 1990, he was admitted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. By Harry Cabluck for AP
Harris kept his legs moving when practically everyone else on the field stopped, snaggingthe Steelers their first postseason victory in the four-decade history of the team by outrunning multiple astonished Raider defenders while the ball was barely inches above the Three Rivers Stadium turf near the Oakland 45.
After the Immaculate Reception was chosen as the greatest play in NFL history during the league’s 100th anniversary season in 2020, Harris commented, “That play really embodies our teams of the ’70s.”
Pittsburgh was on its way to being the dominant team of the 1970s, winning back-to-back Super Bowls twice, first after the 1974 and 1975 seasons and then once more after the 1978 and 1979 seasons, despite losing the next week’s AFC Championship Game to Miami.
Harris, a workhorse from Penn State who stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 230 pounds, finds himself in theit all. In Super Bowl IX, Pittsburgh defeated Minnesota 16-6, and he rushed for a then-record 158 yards and a touchdown on the way to taking home the game’s MVP honours. In three of the four Super Bowls he participated in, he scored at least once, and nearly four decades after his retirement, his 354 career rushing yards on the NFL’s grandest stage are still a record.
Harris, who was born on March 7th, 1950 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, played college football for Penn State, where his main responsibility was to create openings for his backfield teammate Lydell Mitchell. The Steelers saw enough in Harris during the closing stages of their rebuild under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll to choose him with the 13th overall pick.
the top selection in the 1972 draught.
The Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann praised Franco Harris as giving the offence “heart, discipline, determination, and the ability to win a championship in Pittsburgh” when Noll selected him in the first round of the draught.
Harris had an instant effect. Following his 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns of rushing in 1972, when the Steelers made the playoffs for just the second time in the team’s history, he was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year.
Due to Harris’ roots as the son of an African-American, the city’s sizable Italian-American community welcomed him right away. Two local businessmen founded what became known as “Franco’s Italian Army” in honour of Harris. Father and a mother from Italy.
Harris became famous because of The Immaculate Reception, despite the fact that he usually preferred to let his play, not his words, do the talking. The incredibly quiet Harris spent 12 seasons as the backbone of Pittsburgh’s offence on a squad that included huge personalities like Bradshaw, defensive end Joe Greene, and linebacker Jack Lambert, among others.
He over 1,000 yards in rushing eight times throughout a season, five of those occasions while playing a 14-game schedule. In the postseason, he added another 1,556 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, placing him second all-time behind Smith in both categories.
Harris insisted that despite his flashy stats, he was only one part of a remarkable machine.
A family receives a history lesson from Franco Harris about the 1970s Steelers atTuesday at the Heinz History Center. According to his son, the Hall of Fame running back passed away suddenly at age 72.
Harris said during his Hall of Fame speech in 1990, “You see, throughout that era, each player took their own small piece with them to make that magnificent decade happen.” “Each player had their own unique thinking, style, and methods in addition to their strengths and shortcomings. But then it was incredible; everything came together and remained in place to create the greatest squad in history.”
Harris also developed the habit of defending his teammates. When Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson of Dallas delivered a late hit to Bradshaw that Harris deemed to be unlawful, theHarris essentially requested that Bradshaw hand him the ball on the following play during the second half of their encounter in the 1978 Super Bowl. In order for Harris to score a touchdown and give the Steelers an 11-point lead they would not give up on route to their third championship in six years, all he had to do was run up the middle for 22 yards, right by Henderson.
Despite all of his accomplishments, his tenure in Pittsburgh came to a bitter end when the Steelers released him after he refused to participate in training camp ahead of the 1984 season. When questioned about Harris’ absence from camp at Saint Vincent College, Noll, who relied on Harris so heavily for so long, famously said, “Franco who?”
Harris joined Seattle and ran for only 170 yards in eight contests before being released.Midseason release. He retired as the third-most prolific runner in NFL history, trailing only Jim Brown and Walter Payton.
Harris stated in 2006, “I don’t even think about that [anymore].” I remain in the black and gold.
Following his retirement, Harris stayed in Pittsburgh and started a bakery. He also got heavily involved in a number of charities, serving as the chairman of “Pittsburgh Promise,” which offers college scholarships to students at Pittsburgh Public Schools.