Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Virginia Kruta.
actor Joe Manganiello posted a heartfelt tribute to NFL legend - and friend - Franco Harris, sharing just how much the football great's friendship had meant to him over the years.
Manganiello, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said that Harris - a former Steeler - had been instrumental in rallying the entire city and bringing people together, raising morale "at a very difficult and transitional time in history."
The actor shared his thoughts in a tweet on Wednesday, captioning the post with the words: "RIP FRANCO."
"It's hard to explain how much Franco Harris meant to me and to the city of Pittsburgh ..."
Manganiello began, telling a story about how even the stars in attendance at his star-studded wedding to actress Sofia Vergara were intimidated by Harris.
"If you only could have seen how genuinely in awe of him people were at my wedding. Out of everyone there (and he was in good company), he was the one everyone was the most nervous to meet. Ed O'Neill for example, tells the story of being speechless when Franco approached him to say what a big fan he was when Ed was too scared to go over and say hi,"
The actor went on to note that most people were probably going to remember Harris because of the 1972 miraculous catch - quickly dubbed "the Immaculate Reception"
- and the fact that with just one play he changed the course of the Pittsburgh Steelers' season.
"It goes without saying that Franco will be remembered by most because 50 years ago, in 1972 his 'luck' changed the course of the worst franchise in the NFL with the Immaculate Reception, the most dynamic and impossible play in football history,"
Manganiello said, adding that Harris' number (32) was set to be retired by the Steelers - making it only the third number in the organization's history to be retired.
"But that isn't what I'll think of first."
Manganiello pivoted to his personal connection with the late football legend, saying that Harris had been "like an uncle"
to him over the years. He recalled lunches in Los Angeles when Harris had regaled him with "story after story"
about his life and experiences. "He was a gentle giant who raised the morale of an entire city at a very difficult and transitional time in its history."
Manganiello's conclusion was simple: "He was a hero to a lot of people ... but most of all, he was my friend. Whenever I had something going on in Pittsburgh, he'd show up for me. It's sad to see him go but I can only imagine that somewhere out there Ave Maria is playing on his mother's record player as he catches that ball ... forever."
"Rest in Peace, Franco,"
he added. "Thanks for meaning so much to me and to my hometown. I'm going to miss you a lot."