University Park, Pa. — Penn State standout Franco Harris has been selected for induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2011.
Harris will join 12 others in a star-studded induction class that includes John Travolta, Tony Bennett, Joe Theismann, Martha Stewart, Queen Latifah, former Governor Brendan Byrne, Mary Higgins Clark, Leon Hess and Bruce Willis.
The Fourth Annual Red Carpet Gala Induction Ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 5 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The event is held each year as an "Academy Awards style program." It is highlighted with musical performances, video clips and the award presentations.
A product of Mount Holly, N.J., Harris joins a prestigious list of inductees from the past three years, that includes: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, former president Woodrow Wilson, Paul Robeson, Harriet Tubman, Vince Lombardi, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Malcolm Forbes, Althea Gibson, Walt Whitman, Meryl Streep and Yogi Berra.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame's inaugural class was inducted in 2008. According to its mission statement, the Hall of Fame was created to honor citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society and the world beyond. The Hall of Fame reinforces the message to children that they can and should strive for excellence in any endeavor of their choosing. By presenting significant and powerful role models and teaching young people about the voting process, the Hall of Fame is a source of learning, inspiration and hope for children.
Harris was a significant contributor to the Nittany Lions' 29-4 record from 1969-71, teaming with Lydell Mitchell to form one of the nation's top running back tandems. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 12 overall pick of the 1972 NFL Draft. Harris joined former Penn State teammate Jack Ham to bring four Super Bowl titles to Pittsburgh, gaining induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Harris was selected to nine Pro Bowls during his tremendous 13-year NFL career and was honored as the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl IX. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in eight seasons and joined Ham on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1970's. Harris spent 12 seasons with the Steelers and finished his career with Seattle in 1984. His "Immaculate Reception" in the final seconds of the 1972 AFC playoff game against the Oakland Raiders is arguably the greatest individual play in NFL history.
A 1972 Penn State graduate, Harris established Super Bakery, Inc. after his playing career ended with the goal of making it the leader in bakery nutrition. The owner and CEO of Super Bakery, its products, including Super Donuts®, Super Buns® and Super Muffins®, are sold to school systems across America, providing nutrition to millions of students each year, and are available in retail stores.
Harris is also a long-time supporter of Special Olympics. He served as the honorary chair for the first Special Olympics Pennsylvania state Summer Games, held annually on Penn State's University Park campus. He also has lent his support to the Beaver Stadium 5K Run, held the day after the Blue-White football game, which has raised more than $110,000 for Special Olympics Pennsylvania in its initial two years.