NFL

Steelers retire Franco Harris’ No. 32 during emotional halftime ceremony days after Hall of Famer’s death

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“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

That’s how Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II prefaced Saturday evening’s bittersweet jersey retirement ceremony for franchise icon Franco Harris. The Hall of Fame running back, whose “Immaculate Reception” launched a dynasty 50 years ago this week, died Tuesday at the age of 72, just days before he was set to be honored, along with his 1972 Steelers teammates, and become just the third member of the franchise to have his number retired.

Harris’ death cast a pall over a week that was supposed to be a warm celebration of his career and an iconic Steelers moment. Still, in frigid temperatures at halftime of Pittsburgh’s clash with the Raiders at Acrisure Stadium, Harris’ family (widow Dana and son Dok), Steelers ownership, alumni and fans braved the elements to pay their tributes to the Steel City standout.

“The big man was supposed to be standing here right next to me,” Rooney said during the ceremony. “But I want to thank Dana and Dok for being here tonight, for sharing Franco with us for the last 50 years.

“It’s been said, ‘Life will bring you sorrow, but it’s up to us to bring the joy.’ Franco brought us joy for 50 years.

“So in recognition of his many contributions, both on and off the field, it’s my honor to declare No. 32 as officially retired.”



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