Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris passed away early Wednesday, his son confirmed to the Associated Press. He was 72.
Harris died days before the 50th anniversary of his “Immaculate Reception” touchdown pass from QB Terry Bradshaw that bounced off a defensive lineman during an NFL playoffs game in 1972 (watch video here).
Harris was the Steelers’ number 1 pick in the 1972 NFL draft. The running back played for the Steelers for 12 seasons.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. The flag at the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be flown at half-staff in his honor.
Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about Harris during the Steelers press conference on Tuesday.
“He’s just a special man. Forget the player. Obviously, I never knew the player. I know the man and just what an awesome representation of this organization, this community, a guy that embraces all the responsibility that comes with being him,” Tomlin said.
Harris’ No. 32 was due to be retired as part of the 50th anniversary celebration on Friday, Channel 11 sports partner SteelersNow.com reports.
Tributes continue to pour into social media for Harris.
This is the first football player I ever saw, and that's why I became a Steelers fan!
RIP Franco Harris pic.twitter.com/5uc71JqEcy
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) December 21, 2022
Franco Harris interview from the locker room immediately following the Immaculate Reception. pic.twitter.com/ZI9Jtf7FVL
— Ryan Recker (@RyanRecker) December 21, 2022
My heart is saddened with the passing of my Hall Of Fame teammate Franco Harris. My prayers are with his family. He was one of the best people that I have met.. My family still talks about how he treated them like family during my HOF selection in 2014. Miss You Brother?? pic.twitter.com/ArADK10Bur
— Derrick Brooks (@DBrooks55) December 21, 2022
Long live the Legend Franco Harris. Franco is Pittsburgh! I’m honored to have known him. Sending love and prayers to his family and the community ??
— James Conner (@JamesConner_) December 21, 2022