Franco Harris is an NFL Hall of Famer thanks to the “immaculate” 12 years he put together with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1972-1983.
He boasted nine Pro Bowl appearances, four Super Bowl rings, and one Super Bowl MVP honor by the time all was said and done, but he’s perhaps best known for his game-winning catch in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs. He led the Steelers to a 13-7 win over the Oakland Raiders thanks to this catch, which has been fondly known as the “Immaculate Reception” in NFL lore.
Harris tragically passed away on Wednesday at the age of 72 just a few days before the 50th anniversary of his legendary catch.
The quarterback who threw him the ball, another legend, was Terry Bradshaw. He may be known more by the younger generation of football fans as the goofy guy on the pregame shows, but Bradshaw was a Hall of Famer in his own right.
Speaking with Jimmy Watson of the Shreveport Times about the death of Harris, Bradshaw actually revealed that the two had recently seen each other and goofed around together on a commercial shoot.
“We were laughing and having a big time getting all over each other,” Bradshaw told Watson. “I was telling him he never could block and that he had the worst hands in the business. But Franco Harris was truly a great guy – always positive, always with a smile on his face.”
Harris’ beautiful and clutch catch against the Raiders back in 1972 would like to have a word with Bradshaw. Hands that could make that catch in that moment have no business being called the worst “in the business”, even jokingly.
Harris rushed for 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns in his career. All but 170 of those yards came with the Steelers thanks to one end-of-career stop with the Seattle Seahawks. Again, flying in the face of Bradshaw’s joke, Harris also caught 307 passes for 2,287 yards and nine touchdowns in his legendary career.