Franco Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ legacy

Franco Harris, 1 of the NFL’s greats, dies suddenly
Franco Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers' legacy
Franco Harris (Image source: YouTube/WUSA9)

Franco Harris was a legendary Pittsburgh Steeler player known for his skill and leadership both on and off the field. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Harris played in four Super Bowls with the Steelers, winning all of them. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Harris was an integral part of the Steeler’s 1975 championship team, setting club records with 1,246 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns that season. He also established an NFL record with 21 consecutive 100-yard games between 1972-76. His most famous feat on the grid, affectionately known as the Immaculate Reception, was a game-winning touchdown catch from Terry Bradshaw in a 1972 playoff game against Oakland.


The Steelers’ all-time leader in rushing attempts and yards, Harris had six consecutive 1000-yard seasons from 1972-77 and remains second on the team’s all-time list for most total yards from scrimmage (14,664). He spent 12 seasons in Pittsburgh before moving to Seattle for two years (1980-81).

In addition to Franco Harris, 10 great Steeler players who played alongside him include Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Jack Ham, Rocky Bleier, Mike Webster, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene and Dwight White. Each one earned their place among Steelers lore as they led their teams to multiple championships during the 1970s dynasty era.


Lynn Swann emerged as one of Harris’ top targets during their three Super Bowl titles together (IX-XI). Swann was known for his acrobatic catches that often defied gravity and logic; he finished his career with 336 receptions for 5462 yards and 51 TDs. His best season came in 1975 when he set career highs in receiving yards (1128) and TD catches (11). He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton eleven years after Harris in 2001.

Jack Lambert joined forces with Harris to form one of the most feared linebacking duos of all time. A ten year veteran of Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” defense from 1974-84., Lambert finished his career with 28 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery returned for a score along with 23 sacks during his illustrious tenure with the black & gold. He was inducted into Canton in 1990 alongside teammate Harris that year

John Stallworth finished fourth on the team’s all time receptions leardboard behind only Hines Ward Antonio Brown & Heath Miller respectively; he also retired as Pittsburgh’s leading receiver with 537 catches for 8273 yds & 63 TDs.. During his 14 year career he appeared in four Super Bowls (IX – XIV) , earning MVP honors at SBXIV while helping lead the Steelers to four Lombardi Trophies between 1975 – 1980 . Like Lambert and Harris , Stallworth was enshrined into Canton in 2002

Jack Ham followed suit by joining both Lambert & Stallworth as another key member of Pittsburgh ‘s defense throughout its golden era . An eight time Pro Bowler between 1971 -81 , Ham recorded 32 interceptions & 25 sacks while playing linebacker/defensive end over that span ; he also helped anchor Pitt’s famed “Steel Curtain ” defense throughout it’s championship runs

Rocky Bleier made a name for himself not only as a solid running back behind Franco but for overcoming adversity due to a combat injury suffered during Vietnam War. After returning from service, Bleier overcame physical odds to rush for 4818 yards and 35 TDs on 994 carries over his 11-season career. In addition to being a part of four SB wins, Bleier averaged 4.0 yards per carry over the final six seasons played

Mike Webster enabled Franco to be successful from center position by anchoring line play that paved way for many memorable moments including the Immaculate Reception catch by Harris. The nine-time Pro Bowler spent 15 seasons in Pittsburgh (1974 – 88 ) where he started 219 games ; Webster is considered one of most decorated veterans at center position with 235 starts overall

Mel Blount rose up ranks quickly through 1970s en route becoming prototypical shutdown corner before term ever existed ; Blount recorded 57 ints (3 returned TD ) over 14 year stint w/Pittsburgh before being enshrined into Pro Football Hall Of Fame 1994 . In addition first team All Pro honors garnered five times , Blount played integral role helping Steelers win 4 championships during decade

Terry Bradshaw paired up w/Harris form dynamic offensive duo during their championship runs which culminated w /4th Lombardi Trophy 1978 season ; Bradshaw sits atop every passing category franchise history following illustrious 13 year tenure filled w/memorable moments including famous game winning Hail Mary pass vs Dallas Cowboys divisional round playoffs 1975 that launched dynasty run

Joe Greene anchored defensive unit w/Hall Of Fame level performance throughout 1970s; Known as “Mean Joe” Greene had 68 sacks while playing nose tackle under legendary defensive coordinator Bud Carson ; Greene became first Steeler elected into pro football Hall of Fame upon retirement in 1981.

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