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NFL Hall Of Famer Invests In Success Of Women’s Football

Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris is co-owner of the Pittsburgh Passion, a Women's Football Alliance team. His investment makes way for a bigger audience.

In 2011, Pittsburgh Steelers legend and Hall of Famer, Franco Harris, became co-owner of the Pittsburgh Passion, a team part of the Women’s Football Alliance.  Harris joined co-owner and Passion head coach Teresa Conn eight years after the team’s debut. 

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“For us, Franco has been a help from day one,” Conn said in an interview with the Pittsburgh Business Times. “He has believed in us, mentored the program, and just been outstanding to our team in every way a person could be.”

Harris said that he was hesitant about women’s football until he watched his first game, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. He noticed the top level of competition and the dedication the team has to its community off the field, too. These two factors led him to purchase a part of the team. 

“I love sports, I love football and as I mentioned, this is one sport they said women would never do and I am just thrilled to see they are doing it and at the level they are playing,” Harris said in the same interview.

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With Harris involved, the Steelers have also worked with the WFA team. In partnership with the Steelers, the Passion conduct an annual women’s camp at Saint Vincent College, which helped lead former Pittsburgh Passion player and defensive coordinator Stephanie Balochko working with the NFL team. 

Players of the WFA have to pay to play for travel expenses and equipment. In addition, all of the coaches work on a volunteer basis. With Harris as a co-owner, title games in the WFA are sponsored by Adenation, a sports drink that was founded by the Steelers four-time Super Bowl Champion. He also played a role in getting the Passion to play at Heinz Field, the same home of the Steelers. Thus, the Passion became the first women’s professional football team to play at an NFL stadium. 

“If we could just multiply him, we wouldn’t have any issues,” WFA commissioner Dr. Lisa King said in an interview with the Colorado Sun

The Passion have won four divisional championships, one national championship in 2007, and  back-to-back IWFL World Championship in 2014 and 2015. The team is also the first women’s pro football team to broadcast games on an ESPN platform.

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