“We now have misplaced an unimaginable soccer participant, an unimaginable ambassador to the Corridor and, most significantly, we now have misplaced one of many most interesting gents anybody will ever meet,” Corridor of Fame President Jim Porter stated within the announcement. “Franco not solely impacted the sport of soccer, however he additionally affected the lives of many, many individuals in profoundly constructive methods.”
Information of Harris’s dying comes two days earlier than the fiftieth anniversary of the play that helped rework the Steelers into one of many NFL’s elite franchises and three days earlier than the crew deliberate to retire Harris’s No. 32 throughout halftime of its sport Saturday night time towards the Las Vegas Raiders.
“It’s troublesome to seek out the suitable phrases to explain Franco Harris’ influence on the Pittsburgh Steelers, his teammates, the Metropolis of Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation,” Steelers President Artwork Rooney II stated in an announcement launched by the crew. “From his rookie season, which included the Immaculate Reception, by way of the following 50 years, Franco introduced pleasure to individuals on and off the sector. He by no means stopped giving again in so some ways. He touched so many, and he was liked by so many. Our ideas and prayers are together with his spouse Dana, his son Dok and his prolonged household at this troublesome time.”
The importance of Harris’s most iconic second, which the NFL named its No. 1 play throughout its one centesimal season in 2019, went past the franchise, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin stated Tuesday, and resonates even at present. A statue of Harris greets vacationers at Pittsburgh Worldwide Airport.
“The profession that it spawned in Franco — a gold jacket profession,” Tomlin stated, “what it did for them that season when it comes to the trajectory of the season, what it’s accomplished for this franchise — there’s many issues that make it the play that it’s: Essentially the most important play within the historical past of the sport.”
Harris rushed for 12,120 yards over his 13-year profession from 1972 to 1984, gaining all however 170 of these yards with the Steelers earlier than spending his last season with the Seattle Seahawks. He received 4 Tremendous Bowls with Pittsburgh, was a nine-time Professional Bowl choice and was inducted into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame in 1990. It was a desperation move by quarterback Terry Bradshaw throughout a 1972 divisional playoff sport towards the Oakland Raiders that gave him a particular place in NFL historical past, although.
With 22 seconds remaining and the Raiders main 7-6, the Steelers confronted fourth and 10 at their 40-yard line when Bradshaw threw deep to operating again Frenchy Fuqua. Fuqua collided with Oakland defensive again Jack Tatum, and the ball flew again towards Harris. He caught it simply inches earlier than it will have bounced off the turf and scored — lifting Pittsburgh to its first playoff win.
#Steelers Corridor of Fame Working Again Franco Harris has handed away at age 72, could he relaxation in peace.
Harris’ soccer profession is finest remembered for the Immaculate Reception. It occurred 50-years in the past this week.pic.twitter.com/K5Zy7rPVT9
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 21, 2022
The Steelers misplaced the next week to the undefeated Miami Dolphins, however they received their first Tremendous Bowl within the 1974 season, when Harris was named MVP of Tremendous Bowl IX, and adopted that with championships within the 1975, 1978 and 1979 campaigns.
“I feel it’s humorous that, surprisingly, I in all probability met 75,000 people who have been there that day,” Tomlin stated of the sport towards the Raiders (through Triblive.com). “It’s simply a type of lovely issues within the historical past of our sport, and it’s simply humbling to be in shut proximity to it, to work for this group, to know its influence on this group.”
That influence lasts to at the present time. NFL Community deliberate to premiere an episode of its “A Soccer Life” collection chronicling Harris on Friday. Harris gave interviews to a number of media retailers concerning the play as not too long ago as Tuesday.
“That’s the humorous factor about this technology of men,” Tomlin stated. “You can provide them an oral historical past. You may inform them a narrative, and you’ll be actually colourful in your supply, all of the whereas they’re their handheld confirming it. They’re conscious. They’re conscious of Franco. They’re conscious of the ‘Immaculate Reception.’ They’re conscious of the importance of it.”
Remembrances appeared on social media Wednesday morning after Harris’s dying was introduced.
“Awakened this morning to the devastating information that my pal Franco Harris handed away in the course of the night time,” Corridor of Fame coach and former Steelers participant Tony Dungy wrote on Twitter. “One of many kindest, gentlest males I’ve ever recognized. He was an awesome individual & nice teammate. Corridor of Fame participant however a lot greater than that. An amazing function mannequin for me!”
Former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was an all-American at Penn State, Harris’s alma mater, tweeted: “At a loss proper now. We misplaced one of many GREATEST HUMAN BEINGS EVER!! … I wish to be unhappy however the Nittany Lion in me is so proud to name him not solely a pal, alum, letterman…he was FAMILY!!”