Franco Harris’ Cause of Death: How the Steelers Legend Passed Away Peacefully

Franco Harris, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history and a four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, died on December 20, 2022, at the age of 72. His death came as a shock to the football world, especially since it occurred just two days before the 50th anniversary of his iconic “Immaculate Reception” play that changed the course of the franchise in 1972. Here is what we know about Franco Harris’ cause of death and his legacy.

Natural Causes

According to the running back’s son, Franco Harris Jr., his father died of natural causes in his sleep at his Sewickley, Pennsylvania, home. Sportscasting reported that Harris had no known health issues and was in good spirits before his passing. He had attended a Steelers game at Heinz Field on December 12 and was planning to participate in the festivities for the retirement of his No. 32 jersey at halftime during the Steelers’ Week 16 matchup versus the Las Vegas Raiders.

Harris’ son said that his father was “at peace” and “happy” in his final days. He also thanked the fans and the Steelers organization for their support and condolences.

A Legendary Career

Franco Harris was born on March 7, 1950, in Fort Dix, New Jersey. His father was a Black soldier who served in World War II and met his mother, a native Italian, in Italy during the war. Harris graduated from Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, New Jersey, in 1968 and then attended Penn State University, where he played college football for the Nittany Lions.

Harris was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft and made an immediate impact as a rookie. He rushed for 10 touchdowns and 1,055 yards and was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He also scored the “Immaculate Reception” touchdown, one of the most famous plays in professional football history, when he caught a deflected pass from Terry Bradshaw and ran it into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoff game.

Harris went on to have a stellar career with the Steelers, winning four Super Bowls (IX, X, XIII, XIV) and earning nine Pro Bowl selections. He was also named the MVP of Super Bowl IX after rushing for 158 yards and a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. He holds the record for the most career rushing yards in Super Bowl history with 354. He retired after playing one season with the Seattle Seahawks in 1984.

Harris finished his career with 12,120 rushing yards, 91 rushing touchdowns, 307 receptions, 2,287 receiving yards, and nine receiving touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and is widely regarded as one of the best running backs of all time.

A Man of Character

Franco Harris was not only a great football player but also a great human being. He was known for his kindness, generosity, humility, and leadership. He was involved in many charitable causes and community initiatives throughout his life. He was awarded the NFL Man of the Year award in 1976 for his off-the-field contributions. He also supported various social justice movements and advocated for racial equality and diversity.

Harris was beloved by his teammates, coaches, fans, and peers. He was respected as a role model and a mentor by many young players. He was also a loyal friend and a devoted family man. He is survived by his wife Dana Dokmanovich Harris, his four children Franco Jr., Gina Marie, Lydia Ann, and Nicholas Anthony, and his six grandchildren.

Franco Harris will be remembered as one of the greatest players in NFL history and one of the finest gentlemen anyone will ever meet. His legacy will live on through his achievements on the field and his impact off it. Rest in peace, Franco Harris. You will be missed.

Doms Desk

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