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"I prefer to play consistent, error-free football. If you’re doing your job well and defending your area, you might not get tested that often, or get a chance to make big plays.”
(Penn State)...6'1'', 225...Jack Raphael Ham, Jr ... Consensus All-American, 1970 ... No. 2 draft pick, 1971 ... Won starting left linebacker job as rookie ... Had speed, intelligence, exceptional ability to diagnose plays ... Gained reputation as big-play defender ... Career record: 25 1/2 sacks, 21 opponents' fumbles recovered, 32 interceptions ... All-AFC or All-Pro seven years, 1973-1979 ... Named to eight straight Pro Bowls ... Born December 23, 1948, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Jack Ham was a consensus All-America at Penn State and the 34th player taken in the 1971 National Football League Draft. His sensational rookie training camp earned him a starting left linebacker spot for the Pittsburgh Steelers in his first regular season game. The clincher was a three-interception performance against the New York Giants in the preseason finale.
Ham started all 14 games as a rookie and he continued to hold a regular job until his retirement after the 1982 season. Durable, he missed only four games his first 10 seasons in the NFL. Ham, who was born December 23, 1948, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, quickly earned the reputation as a big-play defender and one of the finest outside linebackers in the game.
He wound up his career with 25 sacks, 21 opponents' fumbles recovered and 32 interceptions. Blessed with speed, quickness, intelligence and exceptional mobility, Ham had the uncanny ability to diagnose plays and to be in the right defensive position at all times.
Along with defensive tackle Joe Greene and defensive end L. C. Greenwood, Ham was a key element in an exceptionally strong left side of the Pittsburgh defense during the team's Super Bowl years. Jack played in Super Bowls IX, X and XIII but was forced to sit out Super Bowl XIV because of injuries. He also played in five AFC championship games and it was his 19-yard interception return to the Oakland 9-yard-line that setup the Steelers' go-ahead touchdown in their first ever championship victory.
Ham was named to the All-AFC team for the first time in 1973 and then was a universal All-Pro choice the next six seasons through the 1979 campaign. In 1975, the Football News named him the Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to eight straight Pro Bowls.
1972 AFC – Miami Dolphins 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Ham started at left linebacker. He had two tackles and six assists.
1974 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Oakland Raiders 13
Ham started at left linebacker. He intercepted two passes for 19 yards and added five tackles. His second interception he returned for 19 yards to the Raiders’ 9-yard-line to set up the Steelers’ go-ahead touchdown.
1975 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Oakland Raiders 10
Ham started at left linebacker. He made two tackles, one assist and had one pass defensed.
1976 AFC – Oakland Raiders 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 7
Ham started at left linebacker. He forced one fumble, made six tackles and three assists.
1978 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Houston Oilers 5
Ham started at left linebacker. He intercepted one pass for no yards. He recovered two fumbles for no yards. He had one sack for a loss of nine yards and four tackles.
1979 AFC – Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Houston Oilers 13
Ham was injured and did not play.
Super Bowl IX – Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6
Ham started at left linebacker. He had two tackles.
Super Bowl X – Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
Ham started at left linebacker. He made five tackles and had five assists.
Super Bowl XIII – Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
Ham started at left linebacker. He made seven tackles, had three assists and one pass defensed.
Super Bowl XIV – Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19
Ham was injured and did not play.
All-Pro: 1974 (AP, FW, NEA, PW); 1975 (AP, FW, NEA, PW); 1976 (AP, FW, NEA, PW); 1977 (AP, FW, NEA, PW); 1978 (AP, FW, NEA, PW); 1979 (AP, FW, NEA, PW)
All-Pro Second-Team: 1972 (PFWA); 1973 (AP, PFW, NEA); 1980 (NEA)
All-AFC: 1973 (AP, UP, SN, PW); 1974 (AP, UP, SN, PW); 1975 (AP, UP, SN, PW); 1976 (AP, UP, SN, PW); 1977 (UP, SN, PW); 1978 (UP, SN, PW); 1979 (UP, SN, PW);
All-AFC Second Team: 1972 (UPI); 1980 (UPI)
(8) – 1974*, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980*, 1981
* Did not play.
• 1975 Defensive Player of the Year (PW)
• NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
• Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team
• 1970’s All-Decade Team
• All-Time NFL Team
Full Name: Jack Raphael Ham, Jr.
Birthdate: December 23, 1948
Birthplace: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
High School: Bishop McCourt (Johnstown, PA)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 30, 1988
Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 30, 1988
Presenter: Joe Paterno, Penn State Football Coach
Other Members of Class of 1988: Fred Biletnikoff, Mike Ditka, Alan Page
Pro Career: 12 seasons, 162 games
Drafted: 2nd round (34th overall) in 1971 by Pittsburgh Steelers
Uniform Number: #59