Franco Harris Dies Just Two Days Short of 50th Anniversary of “Immaculate Reception”

FILE – Pittsburgh Steelers’ Franco Harris (32) eludes a tackle by Oakland Raiders’ Jimmy Warren as he runs 42-yards for a touchdown after catching a deflected pass during an AFC Divisional NFL football playoff game in Pittsburgh, Dec. 23, 1972. Harris’ scoop of a deflected pass and subsequent run for the winning touchdown — forever known as the “Immaculate Reception” — has been voted the greatest play in NFL history. On the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception” — Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 — Pittsburghers recall how it boosted morale during the collapse of the steel industry and has served as a cultural rallying point ever since. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck, File)
By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris has died. He was 72. Harris’ heads-up thinking authored “The Immaculate Reception.” It is considered the most iconic play in NFL history. Harris ran for 12,120 yards and won four Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s. The team’s dynasty began in earnest when Harris decided to keep running during a last-second heave by Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw in a playoff game against Oakland in 1972. His catch and run off a deflected pass gave the Steelers their first-ever playoff win and is forever immortalized as the “Immaculate Reception.”

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