Heavy hearts across the NFL world today, as it has been reported that former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris has passed away at the age of 72.
According to Franco’s son, Dok, his father passed away overnight. No cause of death was given at the time.
The news comes just days before the NFL was set to honor Harris and the “Immaculate Reception,” which happened 50 years ago this week. In honor of one of the craziest plays in NFL history, the NFL scheduled the two teams involved in that play, the Steelers and the Raiders, to play on primetime Saturday night.
It’s a tragic loss, as Harris was one of the most respected former players out there.
Harris was drafted by the Steelers with the 13th overall pick in 1972. He would spend the next 12 seasons in the Steel City before playing out the final season of his NFL career in Seattle.
During his time in the league, Harris won four Super Bowls, one Super Bowl MVP, Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, and he went on to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame. Harris was also awarded the prestigious NFL Man Of The Year award for his charitable work in 1976.
Even after hanging up his cleats, Harris continued to do great things. In 1990, he started the Super Bakery company, which produces nutritional meals for schoolchildren. And in 1996, he helped rescue the Parks Sausage Company in Baltimore, which was the first African-American-owned business to go public in the United Stated.
He touched many hearts around the football world, and that was quite evident by the reactions to his passing: