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Jack Lambert
Position(s)
Linebacker
Jersey #(s)
58
Born July 8, 1952 (1952-07-08) (age 57)
Mantua, Ohio
Career information
Year(s) 19741984
NFL Draft 1974 / Round: 2 / Pick: 46
College Kent State
Professional teams
Career stats
Tackles 1,479 (1,045 solo)
Sacks 23.5
Interceptions 28
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

John Harold "Jack" Lambert (born July 8, 1952, Mantua, Ohio) is a former NFL linebacker in American football. He played football for Kent State, winning two All-Mid-American Conference linebacker honors. He won four Super Bowls in his 11 year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is recognized as one of the best middle linebackers in the history of the NFL.

Contents

Playing career

Lambert was selected by the Steelers in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft, though many pro football coaches and scouts thought he was too small to play linebacker in the NFL. (Lambert played quarterback at Crestwood HS before switching to defensive end at Kent State.) While most of his pro career he was reported to be 6'4" and 220 pounds in the program, he measured 6'3½" and 204 pounds as a rookie. However he displayed strength at warding off blockers, quick feet, and extreme tenacity. These traits, coupled with intellect and ability to read offenses led to his quick ascension with the Steelers.

The Steelers took a chance on the lanky Lambert, and he rewarded them quickly when he replaced injured middle linebacker Henry Davis. Lambert went on to earn the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award as a central figure on a great Steeler defense that went on to win their first Super Bowl by beating the Minnesota Vikings 16-6 in Super Bowl IX.

Lambert was known for the hard hits he delivered to members of the opposing team. Lambert prided himself on his ability to hit hard and intimidate the opposition. By the time of his retirement, he was widely recognized as one of the great middle-linebackers in the history of the game. He was the Steelers starting middle linebacker, for eleven seasons; and according to Steelers media guides averaged 146 tackles per season through his 10th year. He recorded only 19 in his 11th and final season because of the injury suffered to his toe.

Lambert amassed 28 career interceptions, 1,479 career tackles (1,045 solo), and (officially) 23½ sacks[1]. One of his sacks came in the 1983 season opener against the Denver Broncos, handing rookie quarterback & fellow Hall of Famer John Elway his first of what would be an NFL-record 559 career sacks Elway would absorb in his 16-year career.[2]

Lambert's four front upper teeth were missing as a result of taking an elbow in basketball during high school. Although he had a removable partial denture he wore in public, he didn't wear it during games, and pictures of Lambert's toothless snarl became a signature of the famous Steeler defense and led to his being referred to as "Count Dracula in Cleats."

In 1976, Lambert assumed the role as leader of the Steelers after star defensive tackle "Mean Joe" Greene missed several games due to a chronic back injury. The Steelers 1976 defense is considered one of the greatest defenses of all time, finishing #1 in nearly every statistical category. After quarterback Terry Bradshaw, receiver Lynn Swann and several other starters went down with injuries, the Steelers struggled to a 1-4 record. At a "players only" meeting, Lambert made it clear that "the only way we are going to the playoffs to defend our title is to win them all from here out, and threatening physical harm to anybody who didn't put forth the effort to do so." In a remarkable nine-game span, the Steelers defense allowed only two touchdowns and a total of 28 points, including 5 shutouts. The Steelers won all of these games and finished at 10-4. The defense gave up only a record low 138 points for the entire season. Eight of the eleven defensive starters on the Steelers made the Pro Bowl that year. Jack Lambert was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976.

In a nine-year span, Jack Lambert was named to nine straight Pro Bowls and was NFL Defensive Player of the Year once.

During the 1984 season, a severe and recurring case of turf toe sidelined him, after which he retired. Currently he and his wife Lisa live in West Franklin Township, Pennsylvania, with their children (Lauren, Elizabeth, John and Ty.)

He has been a volunteer deputy wildlife officer and he now focuses on coaching youth baseball and basketball, tending to his land and maintaining his town's ball fields.

Honors

In 2004, the Fox Sports Net series The Sports List named Lambert as the toughest football player of all time.

While Lambert's number, 58 is one of many jersey numbers "unofficially retired" by the team (the Steelers do not retire jersey numbers), his jersey number has perhaps gotten the most attention out of all such jersey numbers. When Lambert retired, he reportedly told the equipment manager that he was not to issue number 58 again.

References

External links

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