The Steelers drafted a full back who would change the fortunes of the franchise
Franco Harris, a Full Back out of Penn State, was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 1972 NFL draft. Harris was the 13th player selected in that draft. Fortunately for Harris and for the Steelers, the superstitions surrounding the number ’13’ did not manifest themselves.
Harris had a very productive rookie season. He carried the ball 188 times, gained1055 yards, scored 10 TDs, caught 21 passes for 180 yards and scored 1 TD in the process. Harris made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, the first of what would manifest into 9 consecutive appearances.
In addition to the aforementioned Pro Bowl appearances, Harris was named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1972. Harris won four Super Bowls, was named All-Pro once, won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 1976, and was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
All that aside, Harris authored what is arguably the greatest play, not only in Steelers history but in NFL history. In 1972, the Steelers made the playoffs for the first time since ‘Mean’ Joe was drafted in 1969. If you’re a Steelers fan, you know the rest of the story.
Trailing at home, late in the fourth quarter, against our arch-nemesis, the Oakland Raiders, Terry Bradshaw threw a pass that was intended for John ‘Frenchy’ Fuqua. The ball ricocheted off Fuqua, was scooped up by Harris and the rest is literally history.
That play began what would become an 8 year stretch of consecutive playoff appearances for the Steelers. The Steelers never won anything before the arrival of Harris and never won anything after the departure of Harris until 2005. That is simply an incredible legacy.
Let’s bring this discussion to a conclusion.