The NFL world, particularly that of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has had a heavy heart after learning of the passing of Franco Harris.
On December 21, 2022, confirmed the Steelers organization that the Hall of Fame running back had died at the age of 72. The former NFLer died during the night hours and his cause of death was not disclosed, according to his son spoke to the Associated Press.
“It’s difficult to find the right words to describe Franco Harris’ impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers, his teammates, the city of Pittsburgh and the Steelers nation. From his rookie season, which included the flawless reception, through the next 50 years, Franco brought joy to people on and off the field. He never stopped giving back in so many ways. He touched so many and was loved by so many. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Dana, son Dok and his extended family at this difficult time,” Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement shared on social media.
Two former NFL players, both of whom have won Mirrorball Trophies on Dancing With the Stars, paid tribute to Harris on their respective Instagram accounts.
Here’s what you need to know:
Donald Driver wrote a tribute to Harris on Instagram
Shortly after hearing the news of Harris’ death, Donald Driver paid tribute to him on Instagram.
“Rest in Peace my friend. It is an honor and a pleasure to call you a friend. I will miss you…. Thank you for our conversations… ‘The Immaculate Reception'”, Driver titled his post.
Although Driver has spent his entire career playing for the Green Bay Packers, he has had a close relationship with Harris and it sounds like the two have been in touch quite frequently. Driver retired from the NFL in 2013.
Hines Ward called Harris the ‘best man’
Hines Ward played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for over a decade. He played 14 postseason games during his career and has two Super Bowl wins under his belt. He retired from the NFL in 2011 and joined the team in 2017 as an offensive intern.
Ward won the Mirrorball Trophy in May 2011 alongside ballroom-bound Kym Johnson.
“I am devastated to hear of Franco’s death. My thoughts and prayers go out to Dana and the family. We have lost a great person who was very close to my heart. Franco was the best person I have ever met. I will cherish our time together. Thank you for your wisdom and advice. RIP Franco!” station captioned a photo by Harris on Instagram.
Although Harris’ career predated Ward’s by decades, the two men had crossed paths and become friends over the years.
Harris died just three days before the 50th anniversary of “The Immaculate Reception,” a history-making on-field game that took place on December 23, 1972. A description of the piece is below (via USA Today).
“In an AFC division playoff game, the Steelers were 7-6 behind the Raiders with 22 seconds left and faced fourth-and-10th at their 40-yard line. The play’s main recipient was to be rookie Barry Pearson, who starred in his first game. After a scramble, Bradshaw threw the middle to Fuqua at the Raiders’ 35-yard line. Fuqua and Tatum collided and sent the ball back towards midfield towards Harris, who snatched the ball inches off the turf of Three Rivers Stadium near the Oakland 45 before passing several stunned Raider defenders to score achieve.
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https://heavy.com/entertainment/dancing-with-the-stars/franco-harris-dead-reactions/ Donald Driver and Hines Ward mourn Franco Harris