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Franco Harris, just released for the second time in...

By TOM GREEN, UPI Sports Writer

SEATTLE -- Franco Harris, just released for the second time in a little over two months, was back to waiting Wednesday -- waiting for a telephone call telling him his long and glory-filled football career isn't quite over.

Harris, 34, was waived by the Seattle Seahawks Tuesday after it became increasingly clear he wasn't going to fill the gaping void left by the knee injury to Curt Warner.

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In eight games with the Seahawks, Harris rushed for 170 yards on 68 carries, an average of just 2.5 yards. He looked slow and his productivity was dropping even more in recent games. Harris rushed for only three yards on three carries in his final appearance in the Monday night game against San Diego.

Harris' release by Seattle suggests he has reached the end of a 12 -year pro football career highlighted by four Super Bowl titles with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the third highest career rushing total in NFL history.

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Bart Beier, Harris' Pittsburgh-based agent, admitted it's unlikely any team will want to sign the veteran running back for the remainder of the 1984 season.

'I think it's tough at this point in the year for another team to pick him up,' said Beier.

'The teams that are way behind probably don't care about getting somebody at this point. The other teams are kind of set. When you bring somebody in like that, it's more distracting at this point in the season.'

Beier said Harris had moved his family out to Seattle after signing with the Seahawks and would probably stay put for a month or so before returning to Pittsburgh.

Harris apparently hasn't yet reached the conclusion that his career is over.

'I think he feels he's in really good shape and could play this year or next year,' said Beier, who talked with his client after his release. 'Whether any teams are interested, neither he nor I know.'

Harris' career in Pittsburgh coincided with the rise and fall of the dominant pro football team of the 1970s.

Harris rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season eight times for the Steelers, an NFL record matched this year by Chicago's Walter Payton. He went to the playoffs 10 times with Pittsburgh.

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Harris holds or shares 24 NFL records in all, many of them for post-season and Super Bowl play. He has gained more rushing yards, carried the ball more times and scored more touchdowns in post-season and Super Bowl play than any player in NFL history.

The most significant milestone that eluded Harris was Jim Brown's NFL career rushing record of 12,312 yards.

Harris was just 362 yards short of Brown's record coming into the 1984 season. But he was passed by Payton for second place on Sept. 23 in a game, fittingly, between the Bears and Seahawks in Seattle. Payton has since surpassed Brown.

Harris finished his brief stint in Seattle with a career total of 12,120 yards on an NFL-record 2,949 carries.

After 12 years in Pittsburgh, Harris was released by the Steelers on Aug. 20. The two sides were locked in a negotiating impasse on a new contract at the time and Harris had not reported for training camp.

Beier suggested Harris' problems in Seattle were related to an offense styled for the smaller, quicker Warner.

'The way the ground game was set up in Seattle, they string people out and it's loose,' he said. 'They don't blow anyone off the line. You have to blow through the line pretty darn fast and then make the cuts.'

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Even though Harris was never a significant factor in the Seahawk offense, he made a contribution.

'On the Tuesday (Sept. 4) when it was learned that Curt Warner was out for the season, our people were really down,' said Mike McCormack, president of the Seahawks. 'But on Wednesday, when we signed Franco, the whole atmosphere changed.'

The question now is whether Harris' next football stop will be in another NFL city or the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

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