For the 50th time, a Hall of Famer has been honored as a “Hometown Hall of Famer™” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company
. On Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, former Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Franco Harris became the 50th Hall of Famer celebrated as part of the program during a special ceremony in his hometown of Mt. Holly, N.J., where he received his “Hometown Hall of Famers™” plaque at his alma mater Rancocas Valley Regional High School.
Two of Harris’ former high school football teammates were on hand to speak; Bob Sapp served as the event’s emcee and Bob Smith was the honorary plaque presenter. During the ceremony, both gentlemen recalled fond memories of victory parades, town bonfires, school dances and great friendships while growing up together in Mt. Holly.
After unveiling his plaque, a very gracious Harris thanked numerous individuals during his speech who impacted his life and said, “It’s the people you meet along the way that make you who you are and help you realize your potential and without the many teachers, coaches and family members guiding me along the way I would never have been standing here today."
Additional speakers included Rich Crist, president of Allstate New Jersey, and George Veras, President and CEO of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises.
“Mt. Holly, like the other 49 hometowns honored before it, now becomes an extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Veras. “This plaque is for everyone in the Mt. Holly community who helped Franco achieve his dreams and that is why he is here today, to thank all of you.”
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative “Hometown Hall of Famer™” road sign will be on display in Mt. Holly.
“Allstate agents take great pride in their hometowns, that’s why this program is such a great fit for us,” said Crist. “Congratulations to Franco and to the Mt. Holly community for its rich tradition and history.”
Before closing out the ceremony Sapp called Harris back up to the podium for a special presentation. Although a proud graduate of Rancocas Valley Regional High School, Harris was never able to afford a class ring when he was a student. Aware of this, Sapp pulled out of his pocket a personalized class ring and presented it to Harris as the crowd gave a standing ovation.
Harris was drafted 13th overall in the 1972 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers after being a standout football player at Penn State University. He quickly proved that he was a key man in Pittsburgh’s powerful offensive after he became only the fourth rookie in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards.
The big-yardage running back gained attention after being on the receiving end of the famous ‘Immaculate Reception” pass from Terry Bradshaw against the Oakland Raiders that gave the Steelers their first-ever playoff win.
In his 13 NFL seasons, the last of which was spent with the Seattle Seahawks, Harris rushed 2,949 times for 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns. He also caught 307 passes for 2,287 yards and nine touchdowns. He rushed for 1,000 yards or more eight seasons and for more than 100 yards in 47 games. His career rushing total and his combined net yardage figure of 14,622 both ranked as the third highest marks in pro football history at the time of his retirement.
Harris played in five AFC Championships and four Super Bowls, being named MVP of Super Bowl IX after rushing for 158 yards. He was a four-time All-AFC choice and was named first- or second-team All-Pro six times. He held numerous Super Bowl and postseason game records by the end of his career including rushing for 1,556 yards in 19 postseason playoff games.
Harris was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
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