The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

February 2, 2013

Steel Super: Legendary Ham looks at the big game

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JOHNSTOWN — No. 59 on No. 52

Ham was known as a cerebral player who combined skill, instincts and physical abilities to earn six All-Pro selections and eight-straight Pro Bowl berths during his 12 years. When he retired after the 1982 season, Ham was the NFL’s second all-time leading interceptor among linebackers with 32.

For all of his accolades, Ham wasn’t flashy or apt to take center stage. In other words, he was no Ray Lewis as far as attracting attention to himself.

Still, Ham recognizes the Ravens middle linebacker as one of the game’s all-time greats.

“Incredible,” Ham said of Lewis. “To play linebacker…Kickers don’t even play 17 years. An inside linebacker, the way he plays, to play at the highest level that he has played for so long a time, he’s truly an inspirational leader.

“Not too many players get a chance to go out like this,” Ham added. “Jerome Bettis did it, John Elway. His team kind of put it together right now so he’s got a shot at it.”

If the Ravens win, Lewis will retire as a two-time Super Bowl winner.

Ham has four rings earned during an era before ESPN, the Internet and social media changed the game.

He played before multi-million dollar contracts were the norm.

“It is different. People always say, ‘What if you played today?’” Ham said. “But you know what? I could have played 20 years earlier and made $100 a game. You play with the cards that are dealt to you. At one point, Jack Lambert was the highest paid linebacker and I was No. 2. The next contract I was No. 1 and he was No. 2. That’s what it was like.”

 

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