In 2011, I wrote about Super Bowl XLV and how the two teams the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers marked a milestone in my life. It was a game that my then 84 year old grandmother, Charlotte the Great, who had no interest in football, or any sport, mentioned over coffee.
It was a link to a memory of her fading past, when her nephew, Bruce Van Dyke was chosen in the 12th round draft of the NFL to play professional football. The year was 1966 and the team was the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a stepping stone into the Pittsburgh Steelers line during the decade they were infamous.
It was a conversation that she radiated as she seemed lost in moments listening to her sister, Pauline, share moments of Bruce’s accomplishments long ago.
Monday I was in Kansas City, attending the School Lunch Convention. While touring the trade show, I was asked if I knew anything about football. I admitted I knew very little. It didn’t matter, my guide was going to introduce me to Franco Harris, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s and later for the Seattle Seahawks.
I wondered allowed if he had played with my mother’s cousin, Bruce.
Franco Harris is a big man. He towered above me as we were introduced. He is soft-spoken and humble for a man who ranked number 83 on The Sporting News‘ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999.
He remembered Bruce fondly and in fact, he said, “Just saw him this year at the Steelers fortieth reunion”. I learned that Bruce welcomed Harris to the Steelers his rookie year (1973). “Bruce is a good man.”
I can hear my grandma now, speaking of Bruce, “His Mom always said he was good.”
As for Franco Harris, he has served as part of the advisory board at Penn State’s Center for Food Innovation and continues to give to his community.