Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football to remember his longtime teammate and friend Franco Harris, who died Wednesday morning at the age of 72.
“It’s a sad day,” Bradshaw said. “He’s someone I didn’t see a lot. I talked to him on the phone maybe two, three times a year. Saw him at least once a year.”
There never seemed to be a dull moment between the two, he recalled.
“We always laughed. We always were together and we were always laughing. I always was making fun of him stuttering in the huddle and the way he played poker and all these silly games we’d play.”
The duo was instrumental in the success that the Steelers had in the 1970s, which all came after Harris’ immortal grab and touchdown in the 1972 AFC Divisional playoff game. Bradshaw said that he didn’t initially expect Harris to join him in Pittsburgh.
“He was just a good man,” Bradshaw said. “He just came in from Penn State. He wasn’t even the running back that Chuck Noll wanted. Chuck Noll wanted to switch the offense. Well, he wanted to build around the running.”
The coach let his signal-caller know he’d be drafting a tailback.
“I thought it was a guy out of Texas or Houston or somewhere, it was a great running back at that time,” Bradshaw said. “We drafted Franco and we built. The offense we ran was the same offense that they ran in Miami, with (Larry) Csonka and (Jim) Kiick.”
“He was just a good guy,” Bradshaw said. “Never was overtaken. His success never changed him. That’s one of the beauties about him. I always picked at him, tell him he had terrible hands (and) there was no way he caught the Immaculate Reception, he must’ve trapped it.”
The two had recently finished shooting a commercial on the play, which has a spot in professional football lore like no other.
“It just a good story,” Bradshaw said. “We add a little to it as time goes on because it’s better. I had so much fun messing with him about his blocking and his catching the ball — we hardly ever threw the ball to him … I’m 74 and I enjoy these stories more than ever.”
Bradshaw is saddened by the fact that Harris won’t have the chance to be at Acrisure Stadium on Christmas Eve for the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception and the memories that come with it.
“This was to be the greatest moment, probably, in Franco’s retirement life,” Bradshaw said. “He’s getting his jersey retired, which is unheard of with Pittsburgh.”
What was supposed to be a look back on the play itself will now be a celebration of Harris’ life and accomplishments.
“There’s going to be a house full of Steelers,” Bradshaw said.