It was a real honor to interview the great Hall of Famer Jack Ham. He provided an interesting perspective on several issues concerning the Pittsburgh Steelers and the state of the NFL.
Rob Smith: Concerning the linebackers that are currently on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are: Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Arthur Moats, James Harrision, Alvin Dupree, just to name a few… which one do you feel will break out this season?
Jack Ham: Well James Harrison is the established star (laughing). I would have to say Ryan Shazier. He played in a lot of coverage in college at Ohio State. His speed makes him a difference-maker. He plays at a good weight around 235-240 pounds. He also has some experience playing safety and with the NFL being such a passing league, Shazier has the skill set to succeed.
Rob: When you played, players did not make nearly the amount of money players make today. Do you feel the players today have the same passion you had when you played?
Ham: I believe they do. The average life span of a NFL player is 3 and a half years so they need to make as much as they can now. When it comes to safety Kam Chancellor from the Seattle Seahawks, he is holding out right now even though he agreed to a contract only a few years ago. When you have a few years remaining on your contract they are not going to renegotiate your contract.
Rob: Jack, you played for so many years. How were you able to last so long with the way the game was so physical?
Ham: When I played I was 225 pounds soaking wet. Players were much smaller back then. Joe Greene himself weighed 275 to 280 pounds. When I played, the game was more physical but the players today are so much bigger and faster. When I played ,teams ran the ball so much more and so there was so many coverages today we didn’t have to worry about back then.
Rob: On paper the Steelers have the toughest schedule… The last time this happened the Steelers won the Super Bowl. What do you feel the Steelers must do to be successful this season?
Ham: It’s true they have a tough schedule for sure. Ben Roethlisberger said that he will stay healthy the entire season if they run the ball. Despite this being a passing league, the Steelers need to run the ball to be successful. It cannot all fall on the shoulders of Ben Roethlisberger.
Rob: When you look at the NFL today is there any player who (you) feel compares to you?
Ham: Gosh, when I played things were different. There are not many players today that were my size at linebackers. You have a guy like Kam Chancellor who plays safety and weighs 230 pounds. If there was one guy who could translate to today’s game who I played with it would be Mel Blount. Blount was 6’3-6-4 212 pounds and was very physical.
A thank you to XFINITY and XFINITYTV for the opportunity to speak with Mr. Ham.
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