Franco Harris – The Immaculate Reception

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LATROBE, PA - JULY 1982: Running back Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles as he looks on from the field during summer training camp at St. Vincent College in July 1982 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Franco Harris stands as a significant figure in Pittsburgh football history. A legendary running back, he helped lead them to four Super Bowl victories during his 12 seasons on their roster.

But he was also known for being an incredible kind spirit who touched many in Pittsburgh and NFL. On Tuesday evening he passed away, aged 72.

He was a member of the “Immaculate Reception” team

Franco Harris net worth was part of the “Immaculate Reception” team that became one of the NFL’s greatest powerhouses. A running back, Harris set an astounding team rookie record when he amassed 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns while helping Pittsburgh capture their inaugural AFC Championship title in 1972.

Harris had an immediate and dramatic effect on the Pittsburgh Steelers. He helped turn them from an average team into one capable of winning championships.

He won four Super Bowls as part of four different teams, served as team MVP, and earned induction into the Hall of Fame. As an NFL rookie runner up he received an NFL Rookie to the Year award after amassing 1,055 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns as his Steelers made their second playoff appearance ever – an astounding accomplishment at that time!

Harris’ innovative thinking led to what has since been known as the NFL’s greatest play. It had a tremendous effect on Pittsburgh, particularly among the large Italian-American population who welcomed Harris immediately.

He was a member of the “Franco’s Italian Army”

Harris hails from Fort Dix, New Jersey where she was raised by both an African American father and Italian mother – two cultures who shared an open and tolerant environment in their military neighborhood.

Harris chose to honor his unique identity by creating “Franco’s Italian Army,” an allusion to his mother’s Italian roots and heritage. These fans brought color to Three Rivers Stadium by brandishing Italian flags and engaging in military maneuvers during games.

They enjoyed wine, chicken parmigiana and other regional Italian cuisine. Danzilli recalls how his group would plan game day spectacles such as bringing in a tank with the approval of stadium management.

Frank Sinatra led The Army of Harris’ team and donned army helmets with his number on them as they cheered during his legendary play, the Immaculate Reception that secured Steelers victory against Raiders in 1972. Statues commemorating Harris’ legend can still be found at Pittsburgh International Airport and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum to remember him by.

He was a member of the “Pittsburgh Steelers”

Fifty years ago this week, Franco Harris made the “Immaculate Reception” during a crucial moment in the Steelers’ first playoff victory ever against Oakland Raiders at Three Rivers Stadium in 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff Game. At that momentous moment in history, they trailed 7-6 with 22 seconds left until pulling ahead for victory!

At one point in the game, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw dropped back and threw a deep pass into the middle of the field toward running back John Fuqua who was being guarded by Raiders safety Jack Tatum. Unfortunately for both Fuqua and Tatum, however, something caused the ball to deflect off of one or both and return back into Harris’ hands, who collected it and ran in for the winning touchdown.

Harris was a 230-pound workhorse from Penn State who won four Super Bowls during his 13 seasons with the Steelers. Additionally, he accomplished eight 1,000 yard rushing campaigns and was honored as Offensive Rookie of the Year.

He was a member of the “Seattle Seahawks”

Harris joined the Seahawks as a free agent after years with Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming their center.

Penn State product and all-time leading rusher, running back Rashad Jennings was an integral component of the Steelers offense and an all-time rusher himself as well as having played an essential role in passing game success.

“The Immaculate Reception,” as it became widely known during a 1972 playoff game, remains one of the most iconic plays in NFL history.

Even during his brief stay with the Seahawks, he established himself as an esteemed Hall-of-Famer by amassing 12,120 yards rushing, 91 touchdowns and 2,287 receiving yards in his career. Elected to nine Pro Bowls and chosen as part of 1970 All-Decade Team.