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Franco Harris, Hall Of Fame 'Immaculate Reception' Running Back, Dies at 72

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who was responsible for one of the most iconic plays in NFL history and served as the feature back during the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1970s dynasty, has died at the age of 72, his son, Dok, confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday (December 21).

Dok Harris told the AP that his father died overnight, however, no cause of death was given at the time of publication.

The Hall of Famer's death comes two days prior to the 50th anniversary of 'The Immaculate Reception,' when Harris caught a pass deflected off the helmet of then-Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum to score a go-ahead touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff Game during his rookie season.

Harris' death also comes three days before the Steelers were scheduled to retire his No. 32 during a halftime ceremony at Saturday's (December 21) game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Acrisure Stadium.

Harris was the feature back in the Steelers' offense throughout the 1970s, winning four Super Bowls and setting franchise records of 11,950 rushing yards and 91 rushing touchdowns, both of which still stand today.

The former Penn State standout also appeared in eight games for the Seattle Seahawks during his final NFL season in 1984.

“We have lost an incredible football player, an incredible ambassador to the Hall and most importantly, we have lost one of the finest gentlemen anyone will ever meet,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement to the AP. “Franco not only impacted the game of football, but he also affected the lives of many, many people in profoundly positive ways.”

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