PITTSBURGH – The National Football League and fans in Pittsburgh are mourning the death of one of the greatest running backs in the history of professional football.
Hall of Famer Franco Harris has died at the age of 72, his son Dok told the Associated Press on Wednesday. No cause of death was given.
This comes two days before the 50th anniversary of the most famous moment of his career – “The Immaculate Reception.” Down by a point to the Raiders at home in the final minute of their AFC Divisional Playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium on December 23, 1972, Harris caught a deflected pass and ran it in for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 13-7 win.
It remains one of the most famous and controversial moments in the history of the NFL.
A native of Fort Dix, New Jersey who played his college football at Penn State, Harris was one of the featured players on the legendary Steelers’ teams of the 1970s that won four Super Bowls. The running back was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a first team NFL All-Pro in 1977, winner of the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1972, Man of the Year in 1976, and the MVP of Super Bowl IX.
Playing in Pittsburgh from 1972 through 1983 and then the 1984 season with the Seahawks, Harris rushed for 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns. He also made 307 catches for 2,287 yards and nine touchdowns as well.
Harris was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.