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James Franklin, Pat Kraft React To Death Of Franco Harris

Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Kraft and head football coach James Franklin each released statements following the death of Nittany Lion legend Franco Harris. Harris died overnight at the age of 72.

Harris, who played under Joe Paterno from 1969 to 1971, went on to become a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 NFL Draft, establishing himself as one of the all-time greats en route to becoming an NFL Hall of Famer.

Franklin talked about Harris’ toughness and team-first mentality, saying he was “a true steward of the Blue & White and he will be sorely missed.”

“Our thoughts are with Franco Harris’ wife, Dana, and we send our deepest condolences to his entire family, his friends, the Steelers organization and all whose lives were impacted by Franco,” Franklin said. “His professional career and accomplishments speak for itself as a Pro Football Hall of Famer, four-time Super Bowl Champion and nine-time Pro Bowl selection, but it was his toughness and team-first approach as a Nittany Lion that will long be remembered by Penn Staters.”

Harris’ death comes just a few days before his No. 32 is set to be retired by the Steelers in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, which is widely considered by many as the greatest and most iconic play in NFL history. The jersey retirement is scheduled for December 24 at halftime of the team’s game against the Raiders.

Kraft called Harris a “legendary figure” and spoke fondly about his kindness and generosity.

“As a child growing up in the Midwest, Franco Harris was a legendary figure, who I was always enamored with,” Kraft said. “When I was blessed to join the Penn State family earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to get to know Franco and his wife, Dana, very well. They have been so gracious with their kindness and support. Franco was known for his grit and unrelenting style on the field but his compassion, warmth, generosity off the field will leave a lasting impression on me. I am heartbroken for all who loved him. We have lost a true legend and friend.”

Other prominent Penn State and Pennsylvania figures have chimed in to honor the life of Harris. Sue Paterno said it’s Harris’ life of “care, loyalty and service that will forever shine in our hearts.” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf sent his condolences to Harris’ family and all who knew him, calling him a Steelers legend, both on and off the field.

Harris is survived by his wife, Dana Dokmanovich, and his son, Dok Harris.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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