Chat transcript with Jack Ham

General Published on : 12/1/2000

Linebacker Jack Ham was one of the featured members of the 1970s "Steel Curtain" defense in Pittsburgh. The Penn State graduate was named All-Pro seven times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988. Jack joined us for a chat Friday afternoon.

MODERATOR: Welcome to the Jack Ham chat everyone…Jack is here to take your questions. How are you doing today Jack?
Jack Ham: I'm doing great!

pittsteelfan: What are you up to these days Jack?
Jack Ham: I'm president of a company called Nationwide Drug Testing. We implement drug-free work programs for both small and large companies throughout the country. I also do broadcasts for Westwood One, doing the game of the week for the NFL. I also do preseason announcing for KDKA-TV for the Steelers games.

Scott:  You played in four Super Bowls. Did you realize you were part of a dynasty and do you think that could ever be repeated today?
Jack Ham: When you go through something in athletics, I don't think you realize what you're accomplishing. You are continually going to the next game, the playoffs, the Super Bowl, etc. When you are out of the game and you look back, you can step back and see what you've accomplished. With the way free agency is structured today, it's hard to put a dynasty together. If the Steelers had the same system back when I played, we would've probably won two Super Bowls instead of four.

pittsteelfan: Jack, do you keep in touch with any of your old teammates?
Jack Ham: I keep in touch with quite a few. A lot of them live in the Pittsburgh area. In fact, Lynn Swann is my neighbor! Since we had the same team here for an eight-year run, a lot of players remained here in Pittsburgh. I would guess 15-20 guys from the Super Bowl teams live in this area.

Pete: Who had a bigger impact on your life -- Chuck Noll or Joe Paterno?
Jack Ham: Probably Joe Paterno, only because I was 18 or 19 years old. As a college freshman coming to a major university, you go in a lot of different directions. Joe told me that family and education came before football. So, because of the timing, I would say Joe Paterno. He was also my presenter at my Hall of Fame induction.

webguy: What is your favorite memory from your Hall of Fame induction?
Jack Ham: I guess it would be when you stand up on the podium to give your speech. To look out and see all those Steeler fans who made the trip to Canton was very special. I saw all the black and gold in the audience and that was also very special. The fans here in Pittsburgh were a big key to our success as a team.

splattman: Who was the meanest player on those Steeler Teams? And who was the meanest you ever played against?
Jack Ham: The meanest player on our team was Ernie Holmes. This guy was mean on and off the field. He was a terrorizing player because even his own teammates were afraid of him! As for people I played against, I would say Conrad Dobler. He cheap-shotted me a couple times!

webguy: Did Frenchy Fuqua ever tell you guys if he touched the ball on the "Immaculate Reception" play against the Raiders?
Jack Ham: No, Frenchy has continued to have a "no comment" as to if he touched the ball or not. If you look at the play, you can't tell. He has continued to keep that a mystery.

saleemc: Who do you think is the best linebacker of the present day and of all-time?
Jack Ham: Of the present day, I would say Junior Seau of San Diego. As for best ever, I would say Jack Lambert, my teammate. He could play the run and was also such a big part of the pass defense. I don't think I've ever seen a more complete linebacker play the game.

Josh:  Do you believe that you and Jack Lambert would play as well today against such bigger and stronger opponents?
Jack Ham: That's all relative. If I was playing today, there would be a redshirt year in college, which I never had. Second, the weight lifting is different. I would be playing at 240 instead of 220. So, things have changed … things are now year-round as far as conditioning and lifting goes.

Chad: What should the current Steelers do about the quarterback situation?
Jack Ham: The last four games for Kordell Stewart will tell about what they will do next year. These four games will definitely show the way things will go. I think if Kordell doesn't perform well, he could be released and they would look elsewhere for a QB.

splattman: Would you ever be interested in coaching? Have you received any inquiries?
Jack Ham: I have never been interested in coaching. As for inquiries, I've never had any!

pittsteelfan: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Jack Ham: Probably graduating from Penn State with a business degree. I know my parents felt that way! Also, Joe Paterno taught me not to think I was somebody special just because I was a professional football player. It helps keeps players from turning into egotistical maniacs.

MODERATOR: That's all the time we have with Jack today. Thanks for joining us everyone and thanks to Jack for participating.
Jack Ham: Thanks for having me!

Please join us next Friday at 1 ET when we talk with Roger Staubach…until then…