Mayor Ed Gainey Declares December 24th as Franco Harris Day in the City of Pittsburgh
City honors the life and legacy of Franco Harris on the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception
PITTSBURGH – Today Mayor Ed Gainey declared December 24th, 2022 as “Franco Harris Day” in the City of Pittsburgh to celebrate and honor the life of the legendary Steelers running back.
“50 years ago today Franco Harris made the immaculate reception and led the way to the Steelers winning 4 Super Bowls,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “Today we honor not just his talents on the field, but his success off of it. Pittsburgh will always remember him for his generosity and kind spirit. May his memory is a blessing for all of us.”
Celebrating a Pittsburgh Champion On and Off the Field
WHEREAS, Franco Harris was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey, to Cad and Gina Harris. He passed on Wednesday, December 21, 2022, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His family and scores of fans around the world will miss him dearly; and
WHEREAS, Franco Harris was known as a prolific player for the Penn State Nittany Lions, where the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the first round of the 1972 National Football League (NFL) Draft and the 13th overall pick; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Harris was a running back in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers and later the Seattle Seahawks. In his first season with the Steelers, he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News and the United Press International; and
WHEREAS, He was popular with Pittsburgh’s Italian-American population; his fans dubbed themselves “Franco’s Italian Army,” wearing helmets with his number “32” on them; and
WHEREAS, Franco was the first African-American and the first Italian-American to be named a Super Bowl MVP. His Super Bowl career totals of 101 carries for 354 yards are records, and his four career rushing touchdowns are tied for the second most in Super Bowl history; and
WHEREAS, Franco Harris was a key player in what has become known as the Immaculate Reception, a pun used by the Pittsburgh sportscaster Myron Cope; and
WHEREAS, In that famous game, the Steelers trailed the Oakland Raiders 7-to-6 in the fourth quarter of the 1972 divisional playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium. With Raiders defenders in pursuit, Bradshaw scrambled in the pocket and sailed a pass to fullback John “Frenchy” Fuqua at the Raiders’ 35-yard line. The pass deflected off Oakland’s Jack Tatum just as he collided with Fuqua, sending the ball back toward the line of scrimmage. Steelers’ Rookie running back Franco Harris snatched the ball just before it hit the ground and raced downfield to score the game-winning touchdown, giving the Steelers their first-ever playoff victory; and
WHEREAS, Franco Harris’ legendary pursuits continued off the field as he became a true ambassador for the City of Pittsburgh; Franco always said yes to helping with local blood drives, back-to-school events, and youth sports leagues; and
WHEREAS, Franco Harris passed away days before the 50th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception and today on December 24, 2022 the Pittsburgh Steelers will retire his Jersey, Number 32; and
THEREFORE, I, Ed Gainey, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, do hereby proclaim December 24, 2022, as Franco Harris Day in the City of Pittsburgh. May all of Pittsburgh join us in celebrating the life and legacy of a kind man, a champion athlete, and a true legend.