Home Steelers 2022 Season Franco Harris Came Along at Just the Right Time for the Steelers

Franco Harris Came Along at Just the Right Time for the Steelers

by Steeldad

The memories flood over me as I type this… Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris has passed away at the age of 72. The timing, as if it’s ever good, couldn’t be worse as the Steelers were preparing to retire his number 32 at halftime of Saturday night’s game against the Raiders.

When Chuck Noll was building his team, he knew he needed a running game. At that time in the National Football League, running the ball was as much a necessity as wearing a seat belt when we drive. It’s just how the league was defined in those days. Down the road from Pittsburgh was Penn State and they had a pretty damn good running back in Franco Harris.

At 6’2″ 240 lbs, Harris was the perfect battering ram for Noll’s offense yet at the same time he also possessed the ability to cut and make guys miss. This was something fairly unheard of in those days for a guy his size. Harris would win the Rookie of the Year Award in 1970 after rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 10 TDs on the ground. He would not only make the Pro Bowl that year but he would go on to make it the next eight seasons as well.

His performance in Super Bowl IX against the Minnesota Vikings was worthy of the Most Valuable Player Award. He ran 34 times for 158 yards and a score in helping the Black and Gold to the first of their four Super Bowl titles in the Seventies.

The rise of the Steelers as an NFL power coincided with fans rallying around individual players. From “Gerela’s Gorillas” and “Lambert’s Lunatics” there was also Franco’s “Italian Army.” Harris was incredibly unique as he was the son of a World War II veteran and a native Italian woman. The two married and relocated to New Jersey where Franco would go on to become a superstar high school player. After a stellar career at Penn State and then four Super Bowl titles with the Steelers, Harris would enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

In his post-football career, Harris remained incredibly active in the Pittsburgh community and especially with the Steelers. Few former players have been as present around the Steelers’ organization as Franco. It is unbelievably sad he will not be there to on Saturday night to see his number 32 retired.

Harris will be remembered as a great teammate and as a guy who truly loved being a Pittsburgh Steeler.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share This