Franco Harris, the Hall of Fame running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers whose shoestring catch known as the “Immaculate Reception” in 1972 remains one of the most memorable moments in NFL history, has died. Hey what 72.
His son, Franco “Dok” Harris, confirmed his death to The Associated Press.
Harris’s death comes days before the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception,” which Mike Tomlin, the current Steelers coach, said this week was “the most significant play in the history of the game.” The Steelers planned to retire Harris’s jersey number, 32, during a halftime ceremony at their game on Saturday.
On Dec 23, 1972, the Steelers were trailing, 7-6, in a divisional round playoff game against the Oakland Raiders. With less than 30 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, the Steelers quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, lofted a desperation pass to John “Frenchy” Fuqua, only to see the ball deflect toward the ground. But Harris scooped the ball out of the air just inches from the turf and ran untouched for the game-winning touchdown, a miraculous finish that has been replayed thousands of times since.
Five decades later, Harris, who played college football at Penn State, remained one of the most beloved Steelers players, on an instantly recognizable face in Pittsburgh. He rushed for 12,120 yards over 13 seasons, 12 of which were with Pittsburgh, and was a linchpin of the Steeler’s most successful era, winning Super Bowls in the 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979 seasons.
He was named to the Pro Bowl nine times and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1990.
This is a developing story. A full obituary will be published soon.
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