As soon as Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris joined in 1972, he was met with overwhelming approval by an Italian-American population in Pittsburgh. A group known as Franco’s Italian Army quickly formed a support system around him at Three Rivers Stadium that welcomed and welcomed them with open arms.
He was an internationally acclaimed Hall of Famer who helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl wins during his time. Unfortunately, he passed away Wednesday at 72.
He was dubbed “Franco’s Italian Army”
Franco Harris net worth made history when he completed an iconic and revered play called the Immaculate Reception for Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff victory, giving a statue depicting this feat at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Harris will forever be remembered for rushing into the end zone and scoring a game-winning touchdown – one of pro football’s most legendary and contentious moments. Additionally, he was both African-American and Italian-American to ever win Super Bowl MVP and earned nine consecutive Pro Bowl selections throughout his career.
Harris was revered by many, particularly fans dubbed Franco’s Italian Army. Wearing army helmets bearing his number and shouting out his name while running downfield to hear, they became part of his journey from Immaculate Reception through four Super Bowl victories and continued following him even after retirement.
He was a Rookie of the Year
Harris was chosen 13th overall out of Penn State as part of the 1972 NFL draft and went on to rumble 1,055 yards during his rookie campaign – earning himself Offensive Rookie of the Year status.
His career quickly blossomed under Hall-of-Famer coach Chuck Noll at the Steelers. In eight seasons alone he amassed 1,000 yards or more rushing.
Harris led the Steelers offense during their four Super Bowl wins in the 1970s as an engine of offense. He earned four Super Bowl rings himself with them.
He made an unforgettable catch during the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs against Oakland Raiders that gave the Steelers their inaugural playoff victory, known now as “The Immaculate Reception.” This moment would become legendary.
He won four Super Bowls
Franco Harris was an All-American running back who amassed more than 1,500 yards rushing during 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was instrumental in four Super Bowl winning teams – receiving MVP honors during Super Bowl IX.
Harris was an unstoppable running back who could break tackles fast and make big plays at any moment, serving as an invaluable asset for Terry Bradshaw’s teams.
He played an essential part in the passing game, leading the NFL in receptions. Additionally, he finished third for career net yardage behind Walter Payton and Jim Brown.
He earned eight Pro Bowl selections while leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to eight straight play-off appearances and being part of four Super Bowl championship teams, being honored with induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and receiving his MVP award from NFL Players’ Magazine in 1990.
He was a Hall of Famer
Harris enjoyed an outstanding 13-year NFL career and played in nine Pro Bowls while winning four Super Bowls – being named MVP for Super Bowl IX as well as being among the top five all-time rushers for yards gained.
Harris became known for one of Pro Football’s iconic plays: the Immaculate Reception. In a 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff Game against Oakland, when Pittsburgh trailed 7-6 with 22 seconds remaining in the matchup, Harris made an unassisted touchdown catch that led to their eventual win – all within 22 seconds!
The Hall of Fame sets four criteria that any player must fulfill to become eligible for induction: peak and longevity performance, elite position and total value contribution.