Franco Harris, a running back in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and won four Super Bowls, passed away on Tuesday. He was the recipient of the “Immaculate Reception.” He was 72.
Franco Harris passed just two days before the renowned play’s 50th anniversary, which was chosen as the NFL 100 celebration’s greatest moment in league history in 2019.
Franco Harris’ relatives gave KDKA in Pittsburgh confirmation of his passing. No specific reason of death has been given.
Post of Bill Cowher For Franco Harris
We have lost an Icon in Franco Harris. He embodied Pgh in his Grace, Humility, & Sense of Pride. He was a Champion on the Field & Ambassador off it. Thank you Franco for setting the standard that we all strive to achieve as a Professional & as a Person. RIP & condolences to Dana. pic.twitter.com/3GtCgOpeOW— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) December 21, 2022
The Pittsburgh Steelers had planned to retire Franco Harris’ No. 32 during their Saturday contest with the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.
Just two numbers, those of Joe Greene (75) and Ernie Stautner, have been retired by the squad (70)
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s president, Jim Porter, issued a statement saying, “The entire crew at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is deeply heartbroken tonight. “We have lost one of the nicest individuals anyone will ever meet, in addition to losing an incredible football player and ambassador to the Hall. Franco Harris had a tremendously positive impact on a great deal of people’s lives in addition to the game of football.
Post of Tony Dungy For Franco Harris
Woke up this morning to the devastating news that my friend Franco Harris passed away during the night. One of the kindest, gentlest men I have ever known. He was a great person & great teammate. Hall of Fame player but so much more than that. A tremendous role model for me! pic.twitter.com/OswJ82x7I1— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) December 21, 2022
“The narrative of Franco Harris’s football career will live on in the Hall of Fame and among historians everywhere. But if his greatness off the field isn’t included, his life narrative will never be truly told.”
The Immaculate Reception took place on December 23, 1972, during a playoff game between the Steelers and the former Oakland Raiders in Pittsburgh. With 22 seconds left in the game in a fourth-and-10 situation at the Steelers’ own 40-yard line, Terry Bradshaw scrambled before throwing a pass intended for John “Frenchy” Fuqua. The ball ended up in the hands of 22-year-old rookie Harris after bouncing off Raiders safety Jack Tatum and going 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Post of Rayan Recker For Franco Harris
Franco Harris interview from the locker room immediately following the Immaculate Reception. pic.twitter.com/ZI9Jtf7FVL— Ryan Recker (@RyanRecker) December 21, 2022
After the Immaculate Reception was selected as the greatest play in NFL history, Harris commented, “That play definitely typifies our teams of the ’70s.”
On Wednesday morning, condolences for Franco Harris poured in on social media.
Mike Greenberg of ESPN wrote on Twitter that Franco Harris was much more than just one play. “He was one of the greatest running backs of all time and the offensive engine of those storied #Steelers teams. In addition, he was the most refined gentleman you could ever wish to meet. Thank you for the memories, Franco Harris.”
Jay Costa, a state senator from Pennsylvania, paid tribute.
Post of Andrew Fillipponi For Franco Harris
One of my favorite Franco Harris moments pic.twitter.com/uIUfvMorZJ— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) December 21, 2022
According to Costa’s tweet, Franco Harris ‘s legacy in our community will always be one of happiness, triumph, and pride in the Steel City. “Good night, dear friend.
Tony Dungy, a former NFL head coach, continues:
“I learned with great sadness that my friend Franco Harris had passed away overnight when I woke up this morning. One of the most lovely and nicest men I have ever met, “stated Dungy. “He was a fantastic person and teammate. Player in the Hall of Fame, but so much more. a fantastic example for me!”
While playing with the Steelers (1972–83) and Seattle Seahawks, Franco Harris was chosen for nine Pro Bowls and was the Super Bowl IX MVP (1984). In 173 games, he amassed 14,407 yards from scrimmage and 100 touchdowns (162 starts).
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