Not many people were as shocked as Terry Bradshaw about the Wednesday death of Franco Harris.
The two former teammates of the Pittsburgh Steelers were in sunny California just a couple of weeks shooting a commercial together and commiserating about old times in their black and gold uniforms. Although Bradshaw has recently battled two forms of cancer, he said Harris didn’t mention being ill.
“We were laughing and having a big time getting all over each other,” Bradshaw said. “I was telling him he never could block and that he had the worst hands in the business. But Franco Harris was truly a great guy – always positive, always with a smile on his face.”
The cause of death for the 72-year-old Harris hasn’t been released and Bradshaw did not want to speculate what it might have caused it. But Bradshaw said Harris started from day one in Pittsburgh in 1972 as a rookie running back out of Penn State. The nine-time Pro Bowler played 13 NFL seasons with all but one being with the Steelers. And Bradshaw for the most part was his quarterback. Both Bradshaw and Harris were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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He was part of the 50-year-old Immaculate Reception, with Bradshaw and Frenchy Fuqua, which will be celebrated in Pittsburgh in the coming days. Harris was expected to be in Pittsburgh for the event.
Bradshaw said his favorite memory of Harris involved the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII.
“Franco felt like Hollywood Henderson had roughed me up on a sack and he was livid – he was really mad. So, he told me to give him the ball,” Bradshaw said. “I called my own plays, so that wasn’t a problem.”
As Bradshaw prepared to take the snap, he looked up to see Cowboys safeties Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters moving up to the line to apparently blitz. Harris took the handoff barreled through the line into the wide open secondary to score on a 22-yard run as the Steelers won 35-31.
“It was the perfect play call for the perfect back against the perfect defense against a team a team we loved to beat,” Bradshaw said with a chuckle. “That’s my favorite Franco Harris story.
“He was such a good guy. Whenever I was down, he would pick me up.”
Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6.
This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Terry Bradshaw on Franco Harris: He was a ‘great guy’ with ‘worst hands’