The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

February 2, 2013

Steel Super: Legendary Ham looks at the big game

(Continued)

JOHNSTOWN — Beat the Raiders

He might have downplayed his role in Super Bowl IX, but Ham was a big reason the Steelers made it to the big show.

His two interceptions against the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship game were pivotal. He perfectly played a Ken Stabler pass and returned the pick to the Raiders 9-yard line, setting up the game-winning touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swann.

The Steelers beat the Raiders 24-13 a week after Oakland had defeated two-time defending champion Miami. Raiders coach John Madden suggested that the real Super Bowl was played between Oakland and Miami, the two best teams.

Steelers coach Chuck Noll took offense and gave his legendary pep talk in which he said, “They haven’t seen the best team in the league yet, because the best team in the league is sitting right here in this room.” Those words moved future Hall of Famers such as “Mean” Joe Greene and Ham. The Raiders didn’t have a chance.

Bobblehead

Ham visited Cambria County War Memorial Arena on Thursday night as part of Jack Ham Bobblehead Night during the Johnstown Tomahawks game against Port Huron. Ham is a minority owner of the Tomahawks and a long-time hockey fan who spent part of his youth helping to resurface the ice during Johnstown Jets games in the 1960s.

The War Memorial became a two-sport facility, hockey and football, especially during a two-hour reception held at the Stars and Stripes room before the Tomahawks game. Area high school football coaches who might otherwise never attend a hockey game were on hand to see the former Bishop McCort star and Penn State All-American.

Dozens of Tomahawks fans were there, as Ham spent time talking, posing for photos or signing autographs.

Naturally, talk of Super Bowl XLVII came up during Ham’s visit.

Ham spoke of the dilemma many diehard Pittsburgh fans face today when choosing who to root for between the Ravens – the Steelers’ despised divisional rival – or the 49ers – who would tie the Steelers’ Super Bowl-record six victories with a win.

“The 49ers can tie our record. The Ravens are hated in the Pittsburgh area,” Ham said. “We’ve got a real mental struggle in the Pittsburgh right now. I’m not sure how the fans are going to go.”

Ham said San Francisco might have the slight edge.

“The Ravens, the way they’ve done it right now, they’ve gotten better and better and are on a roll,” he said. “San Francisco, with a young quarterback, has put it together.”

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