Steelers Spotlight: Jack Ham
Jack Ham is considered one of the greatest outside linebackers in the history of the NFL. His attitude, exceptional skill, and ability to make smart plays made him an essential member of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster.
Ham was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania where he attended Bishop McCort High School. He began playing football there and continued to do so when he attended Massanutten Military Academy for a postgraduate season. Ham then played football at Penn State University and was the starting linebacker for three seasons. In his senior season alone, Ham had 91 tackles, four interceptions, and was named co-captain and an All-American. He had 251 career tackles, 143 of which were unassisted, and blocked three punts in 1968. Ham was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Ham in the 1971 NFL draft. He quickly proved himself during training, became the starting left linebacker as a rookie, and earned the reputation as a big-play defender. He was seemed to have it all: speed, quickness, intelligence, mobility, and the uncanny ability to diagnose plays. Ham’s teammates and coaches recalled that while he was a fierce hitter, he couldn’t be fooled and was seldom out of position. Ham’s career statistics proved just that. He had 25 sacks, 21 fumble recoveries, 32 interceptions, and 53 takeaways. Ham is ranked 3rd all-time among linebackers and earned numerous awards because of it. He was named to the first-team All-Pro for six years and eight straight Pro Bowls. Ham was also a member of four Super Bowl winning teams, all of which were with the Steelers, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. Clearly, Ham’s career was of legendary status.
After retiring in 1982, Ham began his career as a radio personality. He was a commentator for NFL games, hosted a show in Pittsburgh, and became a sports analyst for Penn State Radio. Ham is also a minority owner of the North American Hockey League’s Johnstown Tomahawks. Ham continues to be involved in the football world today, and his career will live on forever.