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Pittsburgh Steelers legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris has died at the age of 72.
Harris’ son, Dok, confirmed with the Associated Press that his father had passed away overnight.
While Harris’ list of accolades including four Super Bowl titles speaks for themselves, he was most known for hauling in the Immaculate Reception against the Oakland Raiders during the AFC Division Playoffs.
Harris’ passing comes just a few days before the 50th anniversary of the historic play that took place on December 23, 1972. The Steelers were set to retire his No. 32 jersey with the Las Vegas Raiders visiting Pittsburgh on Christmas Eve.
On Tuesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about Harris and the Immaculate Reception. Tomlin, less than a year old at the time, was actually in attendance for the game at Acrisure Stadium.
“It’s just one of those beautiful things in the history of our game,” Tomlin told the media. “It’s humbling to be in close proximity to it, to work for this organization, to understand its impact on this organization, the career it spawned in Franco [Harris], a gold-jacket career, what it did for them that season in terms of changing the trajectory of that season, what it’s done for this franchise.”
“There are many things that make it the play that it is and the most significant play in the history of our game. It’s just an honor to be in proximity to it. To know the man involved, to call Pittsburgh home, and so it’s awesome to be a part of and to witness.”
Harris, who spent all but one season in his career with the Steelers, was born in New Jersey and attended Penn State before being selected 13th overall in the 1972 NFL Draft. He finished his NFL career with exactly 100 touchdowns.