It's a sad day for the sporting world: legendary Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris passed away in his home on Tuesday night, which was confirmed by his son Dok. Safe to say, his legacy will forever be remembered as part of football history...
Harris was the running back who caught the ball in one of the most famous plays in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception. In 1972, the Steelers were playing against the Oakland Raiders. They were behind, 7-6, and only 22 seconds left to play in the game. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw tried sending the ball to Frenchy Fuqua, but Fuqua was unable to catch it because the Raiders safety Jack Tatum slammed into him. Then, the ball bounced backward, and Harris caught it. He proceeded to run and run. Touchdown! He ran for about 40 yards to get the game-winning touchdown, forever cementing himself in football history. "It is difficult to find the appropriate words to describe Franco Harris' impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers, his teammates, the City of Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation," said Steelers president Art Rooney II in a statement release.
He's not wrong. The iconic catch is just the cherry on top of Harris's many contributions to the Steelers and football. He began his football career playing for Penn State. Then, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him as the 13th overall pick in the 1972 draft. He won NFL's Rookie of the Year after rushing 1,055 yards and completing ten touchdowns. The 6-foot-2 and 230-pounder rushed 12,120 yards over a 13-season career, 12 of which were played at Pittsburgh and the last one being played with the Seattle Seahawks. Harris has four Super Bowl titles to his name from the years 1974, '75, '78, and '79. His spirit and determination became a symbol for the city of Pittsburgh. There is even a statue of him in the airport. Harris was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. The news of his passing comes days before the Steelers are set to retire his jersey number, 32, in a halftime ceremony against the Las Vegas Raiders.
No doubt, football fans will never forget Harris and what he did for the game. His legacy will live on forever as the football world mourns and remembers the great Franco Harris.