Jack Ham Pittsburgh Steelers
"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.”
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.