Franco Harris, the Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers running back who thought ahead and created”Immaculate Reception “Immaculate Reception”, considered to be the most famous game of NFL the history of football was dead. He was 72.
The son of Harris, Dok Harris Dok Harris, the son of Harris’s father said Harris’s father passed away overnight. The cause of death wasn’t provided. Harris’s passing comes just two days prior to his 50th birthday, the anniversary game that transformed the Steelers from being a joke to the elite. It also comes three days before the team is scheduled to take off his No. 32 jersey at the halftime of a game against Las Vegas Raiders.
Harris scored 12,120 yards, and was the winner of four Super Bowls for the Steelers in the 1970s. This was a period of Dynasty that was born with Harris chose to run in the last second of a pass made by his quarterback Terry Bradshaw in a playoff against the Raiders who were then located in Oakland in 1972.
With Pittsburgh with a 7-6 lead and at Fourth-and-10 at their own line of 40 yards, and 22 seconds left in the fourth period, Bradshaw was able to throw deep to quarterback French Fuqua. Fuqua and Oakland defense forward Jack Tatum collided, sending the ball to Harris.
The majority of the players stopped, however Harris took the ball just inches over the turf close to the Oakland 45. He then outraced many defenders, giving players of the Steelers their first victory in the playoffs in the history of the franchise.
“That play really represents our teams of the 70s,” Harris stated following the game’s selection as the best in NFL history in the 100th anniversary season , which will begin in 2020.
Although the Steelers lost the following month in the next game to Miami at the AFC Championship, they were well on their way to becoming the top team in the 1970s. They won Super Bowls following the 1974 year, 1975, 1978, and 1979 seasons.
A 6’2″ 230lbs workhorse at Penn State, Harris ran for a record of 158 yards and an interception in a win of 16-6 over Minnesota at Super Bowl IX, winning the Most Valuable Player award. Harris scored at least once in each of the four Super Bowls in which he participated and his 354 yards of rushing in the largest stage is the record for.
Harris was born from Fort Dix, New Jersey on the 7th March, 1950. Harris attended Penn State. The Steelers at the end of the phases of their rebuild, under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll were able to make Harris the 13th overall selection in the draft of 1972.
“When [Noll] drafted Franco Harris, he gave the offense heart, he gave it discipline, he gave it desire, he gave it the ability to win a championship in Pittsburgh,” the Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann said about his roommate who he often stayed with during road journeys.
Harris received the Rookie of the Year honor in 1972 following a flurry of the record-setting 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns and 1,055 yards while the Steelers were in the playoffs twice in the history of the franchise.
The city’s significant Italian-American population was a big supporter of Harris and was led by local entrepreneurs who established the organization that became known in the form of Franco’s Italian Army in a reference towards his African American father and Italian mother.
Harris’s Immaculate Reception made Harris a superstar, but he preferred to let his performance speak for itself. The team featured prominent personalities like Bradshaw as well as defense tackle Joe Greene, linebacker Jack Lambert and many others Harris was a quiet and quiet player. Harris played for 12 years as the offensive’s engine.
He ran over 1,000 yards during the course of his season that saw him reach the mark eight times and five times during a 14-game season. Harris racked up an additional 1,556 yards rushing , and 16 touchdowns on the rushing field during the playoffs, which are both second in all time. Harris maintained that he was one piece of an incredible machine.
“You see, during that era, each player brought their own little piece with them to make that wonderful decade happen,” the former player declared during the Hall of Fame speech in 1990. “Each player had qualities and flaws, and each had their own ideas, their own way of thinking, but every one had their own unique style. Then, it was incredible when everything came together and it was able to form the most formidable team of all time.”
Harris was adamant to defend his fellow players. When Bradshaw received the what Harris considered to be an illegal late strike from Dallas linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson in the second quarter during the 1978 Super Bowl, Harris basically demanded Bradshaw to give him the ball for the next play. Harris ran for 22 yards ahead of Henderson and scored an unintentional touchdown, which gave Bradshaw and the Steelers an 11-point advantage they were not willing to give up.
Despite his accomplishments his time in Pittsburgh ended in a sour note after the Steelers cut him off after his refusal to attend training camp prior to in 1984. Noll famously replied “Franco who?” when Harris was asked about his absence from camp.
Harris joined Seattle and ran for just one hundred yards over eight matches prior to being let go. Harris was the NFL’s third most prolific rusher of all time, just behind Walter Payton and Jim Brown. “I don’t even think about that [any more],” Harris declared in 2006. “I’m still black and gold.” Harris was a resident of Pittsburgh where he opened his own bakery, and was involved in various charities, like Pittsburgh Promise, which provides college scholarships to pupils of public schools. Harris remains with his spouse, Dana Dokmanovich, and his son, Dok.