Franco Harris Enshrinement speech

Franco Harris Enshrinement Speech 1990

Presenter: Lynn Swann

Thank you. All the fans from Pittsburgh said someday I would make it to the Hall of Fame, I guess maybe I am halfway here. To the Mayor of Canton, Commissioner Tagliabue, the members of the Hall of Fame, but you know in Pittsburgh we never believed in next year,, we believed in today and today we have two members of that football team that are being introduced to the Hall of Fame so we are very proud of what is happening right today. I am very honored that Franco would ask me to present him this afternoon.

In the beginning for the Pittsburgh Steelers they were a tough, hard noised, aggressive, physical punishing football team that made everybody pay a price, but in the beginning, they didn’t win championships. They did make it to the play-offs. Not until 1972 when the Steelers drafted Franco Harris from Penn State the Steelers were a play-off team. Chuck Knoll wanted to run the football. He believed in the run, he believed in defense. When he drafted Joe Greene, he had that defense, when he drafted Franco Harris, he gave the offense heart, he gave it discipline, he gave it desire, he gave it the ability to win a championship in Pittsburgh. Franco was never a man who gave you a lot of conversation. I think all of the players who played on defense against Franco can tell you when they hit Franco when they brought him down, it was never an easy task, got up and said thank you. If one of the defensive tackles was still lying down, he helped him up, got back to the huddle and was ready to run through them again.

Without conversation. He gave us pride by his work ethic. Every day at practice Franco would take the hand off, he would run through the middle line and he would run down the field 40 yards and come back to the huddle for the next play, he would go to the outside he would run down the field 40 yards. Nobody was tackling him, he was just making sure when his teammates gave him the opportunity to run the football, when they would open the hole, when he got into the game on Sunday and they gave him the opportunity, that Franco was prepared to make the most of it. And there were lines of defense in Cleveland, in Miami, in Oakland, Kansas City any team you name, who saw the back of Franco's jersey all too often.

Franco was my roommate for eight years in hotels the nights before football games. We were friends. I lived with this man and I watched the intensity. I would talk t ,o him at night while he would tell me how badly he wanted this championship game, how he needed this championship game and when he put that helmet on and he was pacing in that locker room, walking back and forth, gathering all of his forces together to take on the opponent, everybody got charged for that, everybody saw the intensity in Franco Harris and everybody knew if we had the chance to score, we had to do it because Franco was there leading the way. We won four Super Bowls on the shoulders and the legs of Franco Harris. When Terry Bradshaw went down in the 1976 season, Franco gained over 1,000 yards along with Rocky Bleier.

Our defense stopped people, who could not be stopped. I am a wide receiver, and I am almost embarrassed to have to admit that the Steelers could win just on Franco's legs and not on catching the football. He gave us so many opportunities. Our first Super Bowl he kept the Dallas defense honest so we could win another Super Bowl. Super Bowl XIII when Hollywood Henderson thought he had the answer and thought he had the right combination; it was Franco Harris that ran right by him. In our last Super Bowl against the Rams, one of the toughest games we had to play, we had the lead, they took it back, we had the lead, they took it back. It was Franco Harris who broke through the line where we had to stay, and it was Jack Lambert who made sure we stayed there.

It is with great pride and honor that I am able to present to you for induction into the Hall of Fame Class of 1990, my friend, your number 32 and forever, the immaculate Franco Harris.

Franco Harris

Is the army here? Alright. Oh, it feels wonderful, it I s been a long time and it feels wonderful. Oh, that brings back great memories. Alright, the army is here. First of all, I would like to congratulate my fellow inductees, Tom Landry, Jack Lambert, Ted Hendricks, Bob Griese, Buck Buchanan, Bob St. Clair. It is a real honor for me to be a member of your class. And I would like to thank you Lynn Swann, and I look forward to the day when you will be immortalized. Talking about thanking people, it all started in a town back in New Jersey, called Mt. Holly. Is Mt. Holly here, they're here. It was great growing up there. You really made it special and you really helped in my development. My head football coach, Bill Gordon, thank you, Stu Merry, my head basketball coach, thank you. Mr. Cella, my baseball coach, thank you. You all made it very special and even Gladys Louden, my English teacher is here, but I am sure I will hear from her after this speech, she was always that way.

Penn State, what can you say about Penn State? Thank you, Penn State. To my roommate Gary Gray is over here, I know Eric Bass is over here. My teammate Lydell Mitchell, my other teammate Charlie Pitman, boy thanks for coming. Thanks Joe Paterno, George Wills all my coaches at Penn State, it was great. And what really makes this day very special, is to share it with family. Today I am able to share it with my family right here, Dana, my son Dok right here, stand up Dok and Dana, her mother, Bess, my mother Gina. At first, she never understood football, now she loves it. Stand up mom, my mother Gina. And it is just bad that my father is not her to enjoy this with us, but I know he is smiling from up there and he is enjoying the day. And all my brothers and sisters there are too many to name, believe me. My nephews, nieces, friends, thank you for coming, thank you.

Well, Steeler fans, I know you out there, I just want to get it over with because back in 1984 I had to leave the ,Steelers, but I want you to know that now I’m back, yes I'm back. And I am thrilled and honored to Join my teammates once again but this time to join them as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It all started with the induction of Joe Greene, a great leader, a great leader and one who anchored one of the greatest defensive lines in pro football history with Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, L. C. Greenwood, Banaszak, Furness, oh it was great. Joe was soon joined by Jack Ham. What can you say about Jack Ram except he was the perfect linebacker who led a core of linebackers who were second to none with guys like Andy Russell, Jack Lambert, Robin Cole, Dirk Winston, it was incredible? Then Mel Blount and Terry Bradshaw were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mel Blount was the cornerstone of our defensive backfield, with guys like Donny Shell, Mike Wagner, Glen Edwards, Ron Johnson, J.T. Thomas, they were incredible. And Bradshaw, Bradshaw who had a will that was second to none. A great quarterback, a great person to play with and a great ball player to play with and today I am so proud that the best goes on with Lambert my teammate going in today. Thanks, Jimmy, for setting the tone for our defense and for teaching me how to run out of bounds by chasing me all the time.

As for myself, I still can't believe it, I can't believe it. You know I was blessed with certain talents and I tried to use those talents to the best of my abilities. How can I help my team, can they count on me when it was needed? Then you think what makes your talents come through, what makes it work, what makes you work, and the answer is, to be with the right teammates and God knows I was with the right teammates, they were great. You see I was able to achieve goals beyond my wildest dreams because of the people who surrounded me. They brought out the best in me, they made me rise to new heights, they made me a better ball player. And at this time, I can't find a better way than to just say thank you to my offensive linemen.

You talk about people getting the job done, doing all the work but getting none of the glory, that's my offensive linemen. Mike Webster, Larry Brown, Sam Davis, John Cole, Moon Mullins, Ted Peterson, Ray Mansfield, Tunch Ilkin, Gordon Gravelle, Craig Wolfley and Steve Corson, were thinking about you. They are special. And this next guy, I can I t say enough about. Thanks Rocky ... thanks Rocky. . . thanks for leading me here. This guy shows you what playing from the heart is all about. Thanks for being unselfish. And as far as wide receivers go, well if they would have blocked, I would have gotten 2,000 more yards, but we know that they were the best. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, God were they the best. Thank you, guys, you made it easy to run.

I talked about the Hall of Famers and talked about my other teammates. You see, during that era, each player brought their own little piece with them to make that wonderful decade happen. Each player had their strengths and weaknesses, each their own thinking, each their own method, just each, each had their own. But then it was amazing, it all came together, and it stayed together to forge the greatest team of all times. I am going to savor this for a moment. My teammates were men of character with a lot of heart and soul, this was the team I belonged to, a team that will live forever. So, I want you to remember, remember living those moments. Do you realize how great those moments were, did you, savor them, God did you see Lynn Swann in Super Bowl X, unbelievable juggling, acrobatic catch, 11nbelievable. Rocky Bleier in Super Bowl XIII leaping 15 1 catching that ball in the endzone for a touchdown, do you remember. Do you remember John Stallworth catching that pass in Super Bowl XIV over his shoulder for that touchdown? It was great. We remember, but while we were playing, we never knew what the future would bring. We remember, but while we were playing, we never knew what the future would bring. We were just trying to win the next game, we tried to give you the best we had each week and by trying to give you the best each week, we never knew at that time that we were building a Steeler wing to the Hall of Fame, we never knew. But now you always know that you saw the best, you will know because it says so right here in Canton for all to see, the Pittsburgh Steelers are here and here to stay, remember.

Yes, we didn’t know at that time that we were building such a dream, but now the results are in and anyway you look at it, it is truly immeasurable and certainly unforgettable, don't forget us. Good luck and God Bless, thank you very much .... don I t forget us.