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Remembering The Great Franco Harris

December 23, 2022

Today on the 50th anniversary of the incredible touchdown play that gave the long “suffering,” Pittsburgh Steelers their first ‘offs win, I remember the far greater contributions of the man who scored that famed touchdown, Franco Harris.

Franco, so sadly, died days back at age 72.

A comparison, as a way to heap “mucho” praise on both Franco Harris and one, Reginald Martinez Jackson.

Each great, Harris was a better player and his superb clutch play that was an integral part of 4 Steelers’ title teams (’74,’75, ’78 and ’79) nearly matches that of Reggie, who did so much, especially as a clutch hitter on 5 championship teams (The Oakland Athletics (1972-1974) and the New York Yankees (1977 and 1978).

A play recalled by the Steelers’ great quarterback, Terry Bradshaw was Harris’ 22 yard touchdown run that put “Pitts” up by 11, soon they led by 18, in an eventual “bad/even horrible for the books,” “on the #” 4 point win, vs Dallas in the 13th Supe.

Of course, “Schtunk” had 4 and a half, while I, who got the lucky “push,” not before throwing something against the wall with ferocity, but nowhere near that of the positive such and determination by Franco, on that run, as he scored.

There is so much else to add, the sad coincidences and criticism of the NFL playing on Christmas Eve can wait (guess it did not).

So, it is often said, can heaven.

However, we, Roberto Clemente that New Year’s Eve 50 years ago and now Franco days before the Slot 1 ’72 game anniversary and the so far over due number retirement (Only Ernie Stautner and Joe Greene were honored with their Steelers’ numbers retired. My man “Stall,” John Stallworth, Lynn Swann , Bradshaw, and “Jacks” Ham and Lambert, all superb players, wait– but “it” does not wait) go there.

If, unlike Oakland, at least according to Gertrude Stein, Oakland, (now Vegas in the never ending “Roman Empire” aspect of the NFL, Oakland was a great Pittsburgh rival and as “L.V.” and also at (6-8), faces “Pitts” in that Christmas Eve tilt), there is a there, there–Franco will join Roberto and probably help, as they did in non sports efforts while on earth.

Two ways to close this, one with my overwhelming feeling of praise for Franco being the main and first “close.”

Next, my friend the late Beano Cook talked of two guys riding in a car approaching the tunnel in Pittsburgh, who had Oakland plus 2 and a half, that December 23rd, 50 years ago today.

Going through the tunnel, two things transpired–one they lost the radio reception (Jack Fleming’s immortal “caught out of the air”call, not aired in the tunnel) and Mr. Harris scored a touchdown yielding (13-7) Steelers, on an incredible play, to essentially give the Steelers in their 40th season with such a possibility, a first playoffs game victory.

As their car exited the tunnel, the crowd noise on the radio and maybe even sans radio was deafening.

One said to the other, “maybe it was a field goal and we still won the bet.” The other said “No, too much noise it was a touchdown!”

It was! One of the most incredible ever and scored by one of the greatest players ever, Franco, who did so much more than that in his great career.

The two bettors, each distraught, left the car and looked up at those heavens and asked Why?!!” In a larger sense we all do, however, somehow with memories and the great examples set by Harris and Clemente, we go on–a mural near that tunnel, reminding us of them and others, with another day, albeit one with gloomy weather, ahead.


The great Franco Harris, pictured above.


Try viewing the video below even if you must go elsewhere as instructed. On it Franco scores an above referenced touchdown vs the Dallas Cowboys in an eventual (35-31) win for the Steelers in Supe 13.


Additionally in the 10th paragraph of a post below from October 2016, I note comedian Marty Allen being so glad to meet Franco, when the former was being honored. 


A Fantastic show With Husband And Wife Team Marty Allen And Karon Kate Blackwell

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