Steelers Spotlight: Franco Harris
Franco Harris is a football star whose name is known across the country. He was a running back for multiple Pittsburgh Steelers Super-Bowl winning teams and a key player in a powerful Steelers offensive line. Harris’ statistics and overall actions in and out of football will help his name live on forever.
Harris was a multi-sport star in high school when he earned a football scholarship to Penn State. He was not a superstar on the field in college, but the Steelers saw something in him even back then. Harris was drafted in 1972 as a number one pick and quickly established himself as an integral member of the roster. During his first season, he scored 10 touchdowns and became the fourth rookie to rush for 1,000 yards. Harris was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and helped qualify that Steelers for the play-offs for the first time in 25 years. It was in this season that Harris made the infamous catch that would later become known as the “Immaculate Reception.”
The Steelers and Harris made their first Super Bowl appearance in 1974. Harris was named the Most Valuable Player after their victory. Harris led the Steelers to eight straight play-off attempts and four Super Bowl titles during his time with the Steelers. He played 12 seasons with the Steelers and one more with the Seattle Seahawks. Harris retired in 1984 with the third-highest career rushing yard total in NFL history. His total rushing and net yards came to 14,622. Harris was also an All-AFC choice in 1972, 1975, 1976, and 1977. He was named to first or second All-Pro six times. Due to all of these achievements, Harris was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
Following his retirement, Harris and his family lived in Pittsburgh. He has worked with Children’s Hospital and a number of other charities and was awarded the Whizzer White Humanitarian Award in 1982. Harris has received multiple awards since then for his commitment to the community and work with charitable organizations and the Special Olympics. A statue of Harris making the immaculate reception play stands in the Pittsburgh International Airport, alongside a statue of George Washington.
Clearly, Harris is a star in the eyes of Pittsburgh and the NFL. His commitment to the game and the Pittsburgh community are strong. The Steelers and city of Pittsburgh continue to honor his attributions on and off the field.