‘He Set The Tone’: Franco Harris Showed Players How To Carry Themselves Every Day, Tony Dungy Says

In the last 36 hours since the sad, shocking death of Pittsburgh Steelers and NFL legend Franco Harris at 72 years old, many have come out with stories about the Pro Football Hall of Famer being a great leader, teammate and philanthropist throughout his 50 years as a member of the black and gold.

That comes as no surprise for those that know Harris’ history and impact on both only the Steelers franchise, but the city of Pittsburgh itself.

Former teammate, coach and fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy added to the heartwarming stories about Harris the player and person on Wednesday. Appearing on SiriusXM’s Blitz show to discuss his former teammate, Dungy exuded praise for Harris as a leader and player, stating that the Hall of Famer and the author of the greatest play in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception, set the tone on and off the field for the Steelers during his playing days, especially ahead of big games and in big moments.

There was the Super Bowl MVP performance against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX when he rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown against the vaunted Vikings’ Purple People Eaters defensive line. Then there was the 22-yard touchdown run against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII, not to mention the Immaculate Reception as a rookie.

He was as clutch as they come, and it was due to his overall determination and commitment and the way he carried himself on and off the field daily, Dungy stated.

“You could tell in practice when we had big games and he wanted the ball and he wanted to be part of it. And in those playoff games in the Super Bowl, I remember him taking a third and long trap right up the middle against Dallas for the game-winning touchdown where nobody’s expecting the run. And he goes all the way to the house. The game against Minnesota where they’re struggling throwing the ball. Minnesota’s got a great defense and he runs for 150 plus, and that was him all the way,” Dungy said on “But the thing that  I have to tell you even more than those big moments, just how he carried himself. I watched him in training camp, talk to the fans, sign every autograph.

“I’d see him get — his locker was like three down from me — he’d get these big boxes delivered every day of mail, and he’d answer every single one of them and write back to the kids who wanted a picture signed or whatever,” Dungy added. “And that just told me, you know, no matter how big you get in this game there’s something about how you carry yourself. He set the tone for that in the Pittsburgh locker room.”

Harris always had a knack for coming up large in the biggest spots for the black and gold throughout his career.

Obviously, the Immaculate Reception is the shining example of that, but the Super Bowl MVP in the win over Minnesota and the key play in Super Bowl XIII are just as big from a Steelers historical perspective.

While his accomplishments on the field were great, as Dungy points out it was what he did off the field away from the spotlight that truly Mae him Franco Harris, a beloved figure in the community. He set the tone for those 70s Steelers when it came to impacting the community, and he carried that torch right up until his shocking death when it came to showing members of the franchise past and present how to carry themselves and represent the organization in the best light day after day.

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