Where was Franco Harris from? Steelers icon’s hometown, college and career path to becoming a certified NFL legend

Franco Harris, the Hall of Fame running back who played all but one season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has just passed away at the age of 72. His jersey was set to be retired during halftime of the Week 16 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Harris is one of the best running backs of all-time. Hailing from Fort Dix, New Jersey, the eventual Hall of Famer attended Penn State University for four years.

Unlike many of today’s NFL stars, Harris actually graduated with his degree. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Food Service and Administration.

Following his graduation, he was selected in the first round by the Steelers with the 13th overall pick. He would go one to become a franchise icon for a franchise full of icons. He is perhaps most well-known for one of the most incredible plays in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception.


When Harris retired, he was the NFL’s third-highest rusher, behind just Walter Payton and Jim Brown.

During his Hall of Fame speech in 1990, he stressed that every player on the Steelers was important. This reflected his humble nature despite being one of the best players in the league, according to ESPN:

“You see, during that era, each player brought their own little piece with them to make that wonderful decade happen. Each player had their strengths and weaknesses, each their own thinking, each their own method, just each, each had their own. But then it was amazing, it all came together, and it stayed together to forge the greatest team of all times.”


It was this humble nature that made him a fan favorite and helped him become a Steelers legend.

Franco Harris’ career stats: How did Steelers running back make it into the Hall of Fame?

In 13 seasons, though his 13th lasted just eight games with a total of 170 yards, Franco Harris totaled an impressive 12,120 yards. That’s still good for 15th all-time.

Franco Harris has announced the Steelers' draft picks recently
Franco Harris has announced the Steelers’ draft picks recently

He added 91 touchdowns during that time. Though running backs were hardly a part of the passing game then (ironic, given Harris’ role in the Immaculate Reception that kick-started the Steelers’ dynasty), he recorded 2,287 yards and nine touchdowns through the air in his career.

Edited by Zachary Roberts

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