It’s been a rough week for the Pittsburgh Steelers community after Hall of Famer running back Franco Harris tragically passed away on Wednesday.
Harris died at the age of 72, just days before he was scheduled to attend the Steelers’ home game against the Las Vegas Raiders, where his number 32 jersey was scheduled to be retired on the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest games in NFL history.
“The Immaculate Reception” was arguably the defining track of Harris’ career and one that has since become iconic.
The seemingly conflicting catch in the dying seconds of the 1972 AFC Divisional game between the Steelers and Raiders resulted in Harris driving by a touchdown to the franchise’s first-ever playoff win.
And while speaking with current Steelers defenseman Cam Heyward on his Not Just Football podcast on Tuesday, Harris recalled the game in his most recent interview, which he admitted he didn’t remember much about.
Harris commented that after the “66 half-back option” was called, “I started going to the ball and I don’t remember anything else.”
After his game-winning touchdown, the stadium erupted, and Harris remarked, “There was a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, and nobody knew what was going on.”
Harris also spoke about how he stumbled into the whole Raiders squad at the airport after the game, saying “it got really quiet” before relieving the tension of Raider Mike Siani, who stopped by to say hello.
And while this season didn’t have the happiest ending for Pittsburgh, with the Steelers losing the AFC Championship game to the Miami Dolphins, many good years were to come for Harris and company.
They ended up ending the decade with Super Bowl victories, while Harris himself won nine Pro Bowls from 1972-80.
Harris commented, “We knew we were a great football team but we weren’t cocky.”
He also remarked: “We stayed hungry. We wanted to keep winning like this and it was a great feeling.”
After 12 years with the Black and Yellows, Harris left the Steelers in 1984 for one last hooray with the Seattle Seahawks before retiring.
Harris was one of ten Steelers from their great ’70s team to make it into the Hall of Fame, a team he looked back on with fondness.
He said: “I think everything that shines on me really shines on our ’70s team. It was really just that [the] team and wow we had a team.”
And he spoke with similar pride about the half-century of Steelers teams since the ’70s and how they had maintained “the standard.”
Harris said: “1972 to now, 50 years later that it’s not just the ’70s, it’s the teams that have followed that have really held up, as Mike Tomlin said, ‘the standard’ and that’s what’s brought us so good and so proud does Steeler Football have claimed that.
“And Steeler Nation is… wow, amazing how you know Cam when you travel around the country. Who would have thought that …
“The last 50 years have been really incredible and so I want to thank the following teams for maintaining that standard.”
Referring to his jersey retirement, which Harris described as “an incredible honor”, he explained with obvious excitement how he received the news from team owner Art Rooney over lunch.
Commenting on the play being set for his 50th birthday, he commented: “50 years. Come on, that’s a long time, but I’m still here to enjoy it, so that’s good.”
Harris is survived by his wife, Dana, and son, Doc.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6980206/franco-harris-eery-last-interview-before-milestone-weekend/ Franco Harris’ eerie final interview shortly before his shock death as a Steelers legend looked ahead to the milestone weekend