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'Franco Harris: A Football Life' debuts

Just a few scant hours after the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception was celebrated, "Franco Harris: A Football Life" debuted on NFL Network.

The show premiered at 9 p.m. Friday night, detailing the life of former Steelers running back and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Franco Harris.

Harris died unexpectedly Wednesday morning at the age of 72. The Steelers will honor him at halftime of Saturday's game at Acrisure Stadium of their game against the Las Vegas Raiders by retiring his No. 32 jersey.

Those plans, as well as the documentary on his life, were already in place prior to Harris' passing. And the show was a celebration of Harris' life, taking viewers on a journey of his beginnings at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, N.J., to his time at Penn State before being selected in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Steelers.

Harris would go on to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award after rushing for 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games, 10 of them starts. More importantly, he was the key player in the Immaculate Reception, his touchdown catch off a deflected pass with five seconds remaining that lifted the Steelers to a 13-7 victory at Three Rivers Stadium, giving the franchise its first playoff victory in team history.

"When Franco arrived, we became the Pittsburgh Steelers," said fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame member Joe Greene, one of a number of former and current Steelers featured in the show. "Franco brought the Steelers out of the dark ages."

"Everything went through Franco, not the quarterback," said Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

Four Super Bowl wins, a Super Bowl MVP award and nine consecutive Pro Bowls and more than 12,000 rushing yards later, Harris had cemented himself among the icons not just of Pittsburgh sports history, but of the nation.

"You know when you know you made it? When people call you just by your first name and people know who you're talking about," said Pro Football Hall of Fame and former Steelers cornerback Mel Blount.

The show also details Harris' off-field work in the community, which resulted in him being named the NFL's Man of the Year in 1976 and continued throughout his life.

"If you ask around, they always talk about what kind of person he is, not about the football stuff," said current Steelers running back Najee Harris.

"Franco never said no to anybody. He's a special, one-of-a-kind guy," said Greene.