An Emotional Cam Heyward On Franco Harris’ Legacy: ‘A Lot Of People Are Going To Miss Him’

With the Pittsburgh Steelers wrapping up practice Wednesday, we’re hearing from current players react to the news of Franco Harris’ death for the first time. The most veteran player on the team and one of its core leaders is Cam Heyward who was understandably emotional in discussing his life and legacy.

“I developed a friendship with him,” Heyward said as tweeted by The Trib’s Chris Adamski. “Everytime I got to talk to him he always had a smile on his face. You could talk about the player he was on the field. Without him, there is no dynasty. Kind of a jumping off point for the group.”


Harris was the team’s first-round pick in 1972 as Chuck Noll began building a dynasty. Harris was the anchor, the rock, with the Steelers’ run game leading the charge in the early 70s. His impact was immediate, more than 1000 yards his first year to take home Rookie of the Year Honors, and capped off the year with the Immaculate Reception, the greatest play in NFL history.

But Harris’ impact went far deeper than that, something a player like Heyward fully understands.

“Then you talk about the man off the field. To know a standard was set with guys like him. The way he was involved in the community. The way he invited everybody to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s just…Franco meant so much to so many people. He lived a full life. I think a lot of people are going to miss him.”

The entire city of Pittsburgh misses Franco Harris today and the entire football world mourns. The Steelers’ organization has yet to announce any plans or changes for Saturday’s celebration that was supposed to officially retire Harris’ number but no matter what they decide to do, it certainly won’t be the same without him.

As Heyward notes, Harris helped set the standard and turn around the team’s culture, on and off the field, of those who were great professionals and great people. Fast forward 50 years later and Heyward is the current embodiment of that, a player and person who will be revered and loved by the city long after his playing days are through. Heyward’s message today was important and powerful and would do Harris proud.

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