NFL Hall-of-Famer Franco Harris Dead At 72

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NFL Hall-of-Famer Franco Harris Dead At 72

Just a few days before the 50th anniversary of the "Immaculate Reception," the play that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers their first playoff victory, fo

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Just a few days before the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception,” the play that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers their first playoff victory, former running back Franco Harris passed away at the age of 72.

Dok Harris, Harris’ son, confirmed his father’s passing to The Associated Press on Wednesday. According to WPXI, Harris’ cause of death was not immediately known.

The “Immaculate Reception,” regarded as one of the greatest plays in NFL history and the greatest play in Steelers history, is most recognized for Harris’ contribution to it. On December 23, 1972, the Steelers were playing the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game and trailed 7-6 with just 22 seconds remaining. 

Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers’ starting quarterback, delivered the ball to receiver Frenchy Fuqua with the team facing a fourth-and-10 from their own 40-yard line. Jack Tatum of the Raiders was struck by the ball as it ricocheted off his back. Harris successfully completed a 60-yard touchdown run after catching the ball, giving the Steelers a 13-7 victory.

On Saturday night, the Steelers are hosting the Raiders, and NFL.com reported that the team had already planned to commemorate the play with throwback jerseys and a ceremony to honor Harris’ No. 32 at halftime. 

Harris played with the Steelers from the 1972–1983 season after being selected by them in the first round of the draft out of Penn State. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990, Harris became the first person to be inducted into the Steelers Hall of Honor in 2017.