Rashard Mendenhall certainly didn’t need another pat on the back after receiving so many following his ground destruction of the Jets in the Steelers’ AFC Championship Game victory last week.
But that didn’t keep Franco Harris from piling on. And let’s face it, when a Hall of Famer throws a verbal bear hug at you, you smile and accept it.
“He really ran hard the other night and made things happen,” Harris said in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review blog. “I feel this will be a big motivational game to go into the Super Bowl with.”
Harris knows a thing or two about postseason accomplishments. In addition to authoring the Immaculate Reception in an AFC divisional playoff game in 1972 — the undefeated Dolphins went to the Super Bowl that year — Harris two years later was named the MVP of the first of Pittsburgh’s six Super Bowl titles with a 158-yard, one-touchdown rushing effort against Minnesota.
Harris said he was impressed with Mendenhall’s year — he has rushed for 1,440 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season and postseason combined.
“I take my hat off to him this year,” said the 60-year-old Harris. “He’s worked with a patchwork line all year and that is tough.”
As for the chances of beating the Packers in Super Bowl XLV next week, the Steelers great would guarantee nothing. But it’s no secret where his heart lies.
“I feel that we’re the better team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you win,” Harris said. “You’re going to have to go out there and show everyone else.”