DETROIT - Franco Harris is synonymous with the Steelers. The Immaculate Reception. Four Super Bowl rings. One of the NFL's all-time leading rushers. A Hall of Famer. Yesterday when he was introduced to the Super Bowl XL crowd along with the rest of the former MVPs from the NFL title game, Harris received a huge ovation as he waved his yellow "Terrible Towel."
However, most people forget that Harris finished his career by playing eight games with the Seahawks in 1984. The Steelers released him in training camp after a lengthy and often contentious holdout, with Harris just 363 yards away from breaking Jim Brown's NFL career rushing record. That's when coach Chuck Noll uttered the famous words, "Franco who?"
"I had 12 great years in Pittsburgh, and that one doesn't matter," Harris said. "During my time with Seattle, they were great people, great teammates and I liked the town, the town was good to me. It just wasn't for me."
Even after releasing him, the Steelers kept Harris on the cover of their media guide, but his holdout remains a regrettable moment for both him and the Pittsburgh organization. "I don't even think about that now," said Harris, who has long since reconciled with the Steelers. "I'm still black and gold."
In 13 NFL seasons, including 12 with the Steelers, Harris rushed for 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns and played in eight Pro Bowls. He also was named MVP of Super Bowl IX after rushing for a record 158 yards in Pittsburgh's 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings.