Franco Harris was set to be recognized during Pittsburgh’s Christmas Eve game against the Raiders, but sadly, the legendary Steelers running back has passed away.
This is a tragic day for so many reasons. Pittsburgh Steelers fans around the globe are waking up to news that Franco Harris has passed away. Harris was a Hall of Famer and one of the most well-recognized players in NFL history. He was just 72 years old.
The news and timing of Harris’ passing stings, as the legendary running back was set to be honored on Christmas Eve when the Steelers will host the Raiders. It was in this exact matchup almost 50 years to the day that the greatest play in football history was born: The Immaculate Reception.
Just like Franco Harris’ reputation has lived on, no play has been more watched or thought of through the years than Harris’ unreal reception. The pass from Terry Bradshaw deep over the middle was deflected back, but Harris somehow scooped up the ball just before it hit the ground and ran it in for a touchdown.
During his time in Pittsburgh, Harris racked up 9 Pro Bowls to begin his career as well as First-Team All-Pro honors in 1977. He would finish his career with 12,120 rushing yards and 100 total touchdowns, according to ESPN stats. Harris played 12 of his 13 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh and is one of the most well-known sports icons from the 70s.
Harris was an essential part of one of the greatest dynasties in football, as he helped his team to Super Bowl victories in 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979. He had over 1,000 rushing yards every year during this span.
Even at age 72, Harris’ passing comes too soon and reminds us all how fragile life really is. Now when the Steelers host the Raiders for the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, it’s going to be met with a particular amount of emotion that will be incredibly tough to swallow. One of the greatest players in Steelers history has passed away, but he won’t soon be forgotten.