10:13 AM PT -- Franco Harris appeared completely normal during a photo opportunity with fans on Tuesday ... with reporter Brooke Pryor saying the legend couldn't have been nicer as a family posed with Franco in front of his statue at the Senator John Heinz History Center.
My lasting memory of Franco Harris is not only did he spend time talking with me yesterday, he also turned a photo request into a history lesson for Mimi, 15, and Reese, 11, who were visiting Pittsburgh with their dad for the day. Franco was so kind and had time for everyone. pic.twitter.com/H1KRS4QP2q
"The entire team at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is immensely saddened today," Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said Wednesday morning in a statement.
"We have lost an incredible football player, an incredible ambassador to the Hall and, most importantly, we have lost one of the finest gentlemen anyone will ever meet. Franco not only impacted the game of football, but he also affected the lives of many, many people in profoundly positive ways."
Harris was taken by the Steelers in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft ... and it didn't take long for him to become a huge star. In his rookie season, he ran for 1,055 yards and 10 touchdowns, making the Pro Bowl team while winning Rookie of the Year honors.
Harris went on to make eight more Pro Bowls with the Steelers ... and ended up winning four Super Bowls with the team. In SB IX, he was named MVP.
In his career, Harris rushed for 12,120 yards and 91 TDs, while adding 2,287 yards and 9 TDs receiving. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back, though, is most well known for his role in the "Immaculate Reception" -- a wild play in a 1972 AFC divisional round playoff game against the Raiders that many consider one of the greatest moments in NFL history.
RIP Franco Harris
The immaculate reception happened 50 years ago this week.
During the play, the Steelers were down 7-6 on fourth down with just 22 seconds left in the game. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw heaved a pass that was ultimately deflected backward -- right into Harris' waiting arms.
Harris then ran it in for the game-winning score.
Harris was set to be honored by the Steelers just one day after the 50th anniversary of the play ... with Pittsburgh formally retiring his No. 32 on Saturday during its game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
"Words can’t begin to describe the pain I am feeling," former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis said following Franco's death Wednesday. "Franco will always be a brother, mentor and my definition of greatness. He was a legend on the field and the personification of excellence off of the field -- A true class act to look up to and aspire to be like."