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HomeBreaking NewsSteelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris dies at 72

Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris dies at 72

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PITTSBURGH — Franco Harris, the Hall of Fame running back whose heads-up thinking authored “The Immaculate Reception,” considered the most iconic play in NFL history, has died. He was 72.

Harris’ son Dok told The Associated Press his father passed away overnight. No cause of death was given.

His death comes two days before the 50th anniversary of the play that provided the jolt that helped transform the Steelers from also-rans into the NFL’s elite and three days before Pittsburgh is scheduled to retire his No. 32 during a ceremony at halftime of its game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Harris ran for 12,120 yards and won four Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, a dynasty that 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.

With Pittsburgh trailing 7-6 and facing fourth-and-10 from their own 40 yard line and 22 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Bradshaw drifted back and threw deep to running back French Fuqua. Fuqua and Oakland defensive back Jack Tatum collided, sending the ball careening back toward midfield in the direction of Harris.

While nearly everyone else on the field stopped, Harris kept his legs churning, snatching the ball just inches above the Three Rivers Stadium turf near the Oakland 45 then outracing several stunned Raider defenders to give the Steelers their first playoff victory in the franchise’s four-decade history.

“That play really represents our teams of the ’70s,” Harris

PITTSBURGH -- Franco Harris, the Hall of Fame running back whose heads-up thinking authored “The Immaculate Reception,” considered the most iconic play in NFL history, has died. Harris' son Dok told The Associated Press his father passed away overnight. Fuqua and Oakland defensive back Jack Tatum collided, sending the ball careening back toward midfield in the direction of Harris.

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