Franco Harris, N.F.L. Hall of Famer Who Caught ‘Immaculate Reception,’ Dies at 72
Franco Harris, the Hall of Fame running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers whose shoestring catch known as the “Immaculate Reception” in 1972 remains one of the most memorable moments in N.F.L. history, has died. He was 72.
His son, Franco “Dok” Harris, confirmed his death to The Associated Press.
Harris’ death comes days before the 50th anniversary of the Divisional Round playoff game against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 23, 1972. Terry Bradshaw, the quarterback, lofted a desperation passto Frenchy Fuqua, only to see the ball deflect toward the ground. But Harris scooped the ball out of the air just inches from the turf and ran for the game-winning touchdown with five seconds to go, a miraculous finish that has been replayed thousands of times since.
Mike Tomlin, the current coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said this week that it was “the most significant play in the history of the game.”
Five decades later, Harris, who played college football at Penn State, remained one of the most beloved Steelers players in franchise history, an instantly recognizable face in Pittsburgh. He was inducted into the N.F.L. Hall of Fame in 1990.