Pro Football Hall Of Fame Running Back Dies At 72

Back in 1972, Franco Harris made an amazing catch for the Pittsburg Steelers that has become known as the “Immaculate Reception.” It happened during a playoff game against Oakland, and it marked a change for the Steelers during the 1970s. They ended up becoming a dominant team during that decade and won 4 Super Bowls in 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979. Harris scored during three out of four of those Super Bowl games.

In 2020, during the NFL’s 100th anniversary season, the “Immaculate Reception” was voted the greatest play ever in NFL history.

In September, the Steelers announced that they would be retiring Harris’s number, number 32. At the time, Harris said, “It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years, that’s a long time. And to have it so alive, you know, is still thrilling and exciting. It really says a lot. It means a lot.”

Unfortunately, Harris will not get to see his number officially get retired, which was scheduled to happen during half-time at an upcoming game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Harris has died at the age of 72. Harris’s son, Dok, confirmed his father’s death to the Associated Press. He did not reveal a cause of death.

In the video below, learn more about the celebration that was planned to honor Harris at the game this weekend and how that celebration is now more of a tribute to the late Hall of Famer.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin talked to reporters about the “Immaculate Reception” and the upcoming plans for retiring Harris’s number. Tomlin said, “I was in Section 135 that day. I was eight months old. I think it’s funny. Surprisingly, I’ve probably met 75,000 people that were there that day. It’s just one of those beautiful things in the history of our game. It’s humbling to be in close proximity to it, to work for this organization, to understand its impact on this organization, the career it spawned in Franco, a gold-jacket career, what it did for them that season in terms of changing the trajectory of that season, what it’s done for this franchise.”

Tomlin added, “There are many things that make it the play that it is and the most significant play in the history of our game. It’s just an honor to be in proximity to it. To know the man involved, to call Pittsburgh home, and so it’s awesome to be a part of and to witness. But at the same time, we understand that we’ve got business, we’ve got present-day business and the best way we can honor him and that is by performing. We’re going to work extremely hard to prepare ourselves leading up to it.”

[Image credit: Wikipedia]