Remembering Franco: Reaction to the death of Franco Harris

Some of the reaction following the death of Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris:

___

It is difficult to find the appropriate words to describe Franco Harris’ impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers, his teammates, the ity of Pittsburgh and Steelers Nation. From his rookie season, which included the Immaculate 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 he was loved by so many. — Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II.

___

He meant so much to Steelers fans as the Hall of Fame running back who helped form the nucleus of the team’s dynasty of the ’70s, but he was much more. He was a gentle soul who touched so many in the Pittsburgh community and throughout the entire NFL. Franco changed the way people thought of the Steelers, of Pittsburgh, and of the NFL. — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

___

One of the kindest, gentlest men I have ever known. He was a great person & great teammate. Hall of Fame player but so much more than that. A tremendous role model for me! — Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, a teammate of Harris’ in the late 1970s.

___

The minute I throw the ball, Franco takes off. And I ask him, ‘What made you run downfield.’ And he said at Penn State, Joe Paterno told the running backs that when the quarterback releases the ball, to run to the play. Run to the ball. And had he not been taught that by Paterno, he would not have released and gone downfield. And that’s exactly what he did, and that’s why he caught that pass. It’s just a good story. We add a little to it as time goes on because it’s better. I had so much fun messing with him about his blocking and catching the ball. We hardly ever threw the ball to him. … He was just such a good man. I can’t get past that. Always smiling. Always smiling. Such a humble giant. Superstar. I’m just going to miss his friendship. — Retired QB Terry Bradshaw, who threw the ‘Immaculate Reception’ pass caught by Harris.

___

Today we lost a Legend, not just on the field, but even more so off. Franco always had a smile and a hand shake or a hug for everyone, it seemed. Thank you for being a role model for us all! — Former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

___

Franco Harris is known for the glory he brought to football. But I knew him for his character and compassion – someone who spent time with my boys after we lost my first wife and infant daughter. May God bless Franco Harris, a dear friend of 50 years and a great American. — President Joe Biden.

___

Words can’t begin to describe the pain I am feeling. Franco will always be a brother, mentor and my definition of greatness. He was a legend on the field and the personification of excellence off of the field — Former Steelers Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis.

___

There’s so much to be learned from him in terms of how he conducted himself, how he embraced the responsibilities of being Franco for Steeler Nation, for this community. You know, for the Penn State followers. He embraced it all and did it with such grace and class and patience and time for people. — Current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

___

We did so many things together. I can’t remember all these things over the last 50 years. It’s crazy. We were always doing the Immaculate Reception story and it got bigger and bigger. He would invite me to places he needed me. I would invite him to places I needed him and our friendship just grew and grew.” — Former Raiders linebacker Phil Villapiano, who was covering Harris during the Immaculate Reception.

___

Franco was The Guy. And for as many accolades as he got, he always deflected to so many other people. It was a pleasure to just meet him and the way he went about respecting people after him I thought was incredible. — Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward.

___

A Pittsburgh icon and a true champion on and off the field. Franco will be remembered for his grace, his humility, his kindness and his tremendous contributions to our community. — Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux.

___

His professional career and accomplishments speak for itself as a Pro Football Hall of Famer, four-time Super Bowl Champion and nine-time Pro Bowl selection, but it was his toughness and team-first approach as a Nittany Lion that will long be remembered by Penn Staters. — Penn State football coach James Franklin.

___

I know it’s a sad day and there are a lot of family and friends that are going to miss him terribly, but I hope people are able to celebrate what was really an incredible career. — Cleveland Indians manager and western Pennsylvania native Terry Francona, who grew up watching Harris in the 1970s.

___

He wasn’t fun to play against, I can tell you that. At Baltimore, we played them in the playoffs there the first year. A great player. A great person. A big loss. — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up