Jack Lambert Pittsburgh Steelers
"I knew what I wanted to do, and playing in the National Football League was it. So I really concentrated. I was all football, 24 hours a day.”
Jack Lambert was a two-year All-Mid America Conference linebacker at Kent State and a second-round draft selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974. The 6-4, 220-pound Lambert immediately took charge of his destiny by winning the starting middle linebacker assignment as a rookie and keeping it throughout his 11-year career in Pittsburgh that ended after the 1984 season.
He was soon recognized as the premier linebacker of his era. Lambert had all the necessary ingredients – intelligence, intensity, speed, quickness, range, durability – and he used them all to his best advantage. Even though he was the youngest starter on the Pittsburgh defensive unit, many felt that Lambert's presence was the final ingredient needed to turn that unit into a dominant one. Intimidating, he helped to shape and reinforce Pittsburgh’s famed “Steel Curtain.”
Lambert was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1974. He was All-Pro eight times in a nine-year span between 1975 and 1983, and played in nine straight Pro Bowls. His impressive résumé also includes the fact that he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976.
The team defensive captain for eight years, Lambert played in six AFC championship games and four Super Bowls. His interception late in the fourth quarter preserved Pittsburgh's fourth NFL title victory in Super Bowl XIV. During his career, he had 28 interceptions, which he returned 243 yards. In 1976, he recorded eight opponents' fumble recoveries and wound up with 17 during his 11-year tenure.
Lambert missed only six games because of injuries his first 10 years in the NFL but, in 1984, he suffered a severe toe injury, which limited his playing time to just eight games. He eventually was forced to retire at the end of the season.