I have met a lot of professional athletes, and there are four that I carry their words and how they made me feel today; Franco Harris is the first one that truly took time out and made me feel believed in and supported.
I recognized a former NFL athlete in a grocery store years ago. Usually, I would not have stopped to say anything and just smiled because I saw someone cool. However, in that moment of life, I was a full-tackle female football player excited to share and learn from the best. I approached Franco, and he appeared to be welcomed to our conversation; I eventually asked if I could continue talking with him, and he said yes and gave me his email address.
After almost every game, I would write to him; I shared with him and one other “Steeler Great” what I was learning and experiencing weekly from my games, and they wrote back. I was so thankful for the mentorship I received from them, even if they didn't realize I was soaking up and applying everything they gave me.
One day, I asked Franco if he would be willing to do the coin toss at my football game, and he agreed! I quickly shared my excitement with everyone so fast that I spelled his name wrong.
He came and did the toss, and I ran out from the sideline onto the field and gave him a big hug.
To recap, this NFL Legend took time out to not only talk to someone he met at a grocery store about tackle football but he also responded to ME over email. He then had his company sponsor me to play football and even did the coin toss for my team.
A season or two later, the women's football team owner asked me if I could connect her to Franco. Funny enough, I just happened to be in the same box as him during a Steelers game. I asked if I could pass on his contact information to her, and he again agreed; fast forward, Franco became a team owner.
At an event, Franco was a speaker giving out necklaces to everyone. I didn't think I was going to get one, but he took time to say kind words about my personality and service to the community and gave me a necklace.
I continued every once in a while, sharing with him over the years what I had been up to. When I finally got my first High School Football coaching job, he wrote me three words.
“Congratulations. Determination. Perseverance.”
Very few people made a lasting impression on my life that I still carry today.
Meeting Franco in a grocery store, to this day, still has an impact on my life. We become like the people we choose to expose ourselves to; I show that same kindness he gave to me to everyone I meet.
Rest in Peace, Franco, I am forever grateful.
#steelers #football #francoing #32 #pittsburgh #coachmycyk #steelersnation #immaculatereception #francoharris
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