Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris played an essential role in Pittsburgh Steelers’ winning dynasty as one of its running backs with 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns over his 13-year career, as he was on the receiving end of one of football’s great plays – known as “The Immaculate Reception”– which lead to their inaugural playoff victory.
He was born in Fort Dix
Franco Harris was born March 7, 1950 in Fort Dix, New Jersey to Gina and Cad Harris – two military veterans who met while serving together in Italy during World War II.
He attended Rancocas Valley Regional High School before going on to play college football for Penn State, making an impressionful impactful statement with their team, earning all-American status during his stay there.
In 1972, Harris was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers and had a significant impact on their successful 1970s team that won four Super Bowl championships.
Franco Harris net worth became one of the greatest running backs in NFL history during his distinguished career, appearing nine times at Pro Bowl level and earning membership into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Eight times during his career he surpassed 1,000 yards for rushing; including an amazing 1,246 yard mark that stands as his career high mark.
He played college football at Penn State
Penn State mourned Franco Harris on Wednesday, remembering an integral player from one of America’s premier backfields 50 years ago. While at Penn State, Harris racked up over 380 carries and 2,002 yards carrying the ball over that span and earned him respect from both coaches and teammates alike.
He scored 24 touchdowns during his three seasons with Penn State, creating one of the greatest running back tandems in college football history with All-American Lydell Mitchell.
After graduating Penn State, Harris played 13 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL rushing for 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns during that time – an All-Pro selection and nine-time Pro Bowler, helping lead them to four Super Bowl championships along the way. Harris was honored with induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his very first ballot vote.
He was drafted by the Steelers
Harris came into a franchise that hadn’t won a championship before with much uncertainty and anxiety attached. Although Penn State had produced him as a workhorse on defense, there were concerns regarding his character that could potentially compromise his chance to succeed on Sundays.
Answers were provided through one play in the 1972 NFL playoffs: when Harris made an Immaculate Reception against Oakland Raiders with 22 seconds remaining in a game against them and set in motion a series of events which would alter their history forever.
Officially, Terry Bradshaw passed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Harris that set in motion the Steelers’ first playoff win and led them on their road to Super Bowl dynasty. But this play meant much more. Harris caught it and it marked their victory against rival Baltimore Ravens and laid the foundation for years of dominance that ultimately brought victory and glory for Pittsburgh.
He made the Immaculate Reception
One of the most infamous plays in American football history took place on December 23, 1972 during an AFC divisional playoff game between Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders.
Harris made an amazing catch in the end zone to give his team a 13-7 victory, collecting it from Terry Bradshaw in the last seconds and running 60 yards for an epic touchdown touchdown play en route to an amazing win.
Many fans recall the play fondly and there is even a monument commemorating it at Three Rivers Stadium, yet others may take an entirely different perspective on its impact.
Tom Wedzik from Erie and his father were seated 15 rows up from the field surface. Although their view was much closer than most in the crowd, they still weren’t able to pinpoint exactly where the ball went.
At that moment in time, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw downfield a ball that deflected off of a collision between Oakland Raiders defender Jack Tatum and Steelers running back John Fuqua – ultimately landing in Harris’ hands and running all the way back towards the end zone for an easy touchdown that helped launch them on their journey toward four Super Bowl victories within six years.