Franco Harris played in an era where defenses were allowed to do just about anything they wanted.
And typically, that’s what they did.
Everything from head slaps to hits to the head to hits to the knees weren’t only practiced, but were legal.
Knowing that, even Steelers Hall of Fame running back said he is “really disturbed” about the recent bounty program put in place by the New Orleans Saints that resulted in suspensions, fines and lost draft picks.
“As ball players, we know that any play can be our last play,” said Harris, who was attending a news conference at the Heinz History Center on behalf of an exhibit set to debut in October. “So you have to respect players for that because we know how physical and damaging this sport is. To have someone go into that bounty capacity, it is very upsetting.”
Harris played for the Steelers from 1972 to 1983 before ending his career in Seattle in 1984. Harris gained more than 12,000 yards, scored 91 touchdowns and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Harris acknowledged during his playing days there was a lot of trash talk about “taking their heads off,” but that was as far as it went.
Former Saints offensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, said in an audio recording that was released last week during a pregame speech that: “Kill the head and the body will die” and “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.”
To Harris, Williams crossed the line
“All coaches have those types of conversations …” Harris said. “That is nothing new. But I am really disturbed about a bounty being put on someone. Talking the talk and talking trash is one thing and I look at that as part of sports. To me, (bounties) take the sport out of it and make you focus on something else.”
By Mark Kaboly
April 10, 2012 – 1:21 p.m.