State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Penn State's Jack Ham inducted into the Hometown Hall of Fame

by on October 05, 2017 11:37 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK — Former Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Ham was inducted into the Hometown Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 29. 

The Pro Football Hall of Fame created the Hometown Hall of Famers program to honor the roots of football’s best and most influential players. Ham never left the state of Pennsylvania throughout his pro football career and into broadcasting games for Penn State.
The ceremony consisted of about 60 people including fellow Hall of Famer Franco Harris and other teammates and friends.
When he was called up to the podium, Ham started by thanking the university he has been a part of for so many years.
“I think every NFL player wants to give back to their university because they’ve done so much for us,” he said.
He then told the story of how he ended up at Penn State in the first place, as one of the last scholarships on the team.
“Someone turned (the scholarship offer) down,” said Ham. “Somebody went from a commitment to Penn State and ended up going to Iowa. Why he picked Iowa, I have no idea.”
One of his former teammates at Bishop McCort High School, Steve Smear, told the university about Ham.
“He may have embellished a little bit at that period of time,” said Ham. “But in any case, he went to bat for me and Penn State gave me that scholarship.”
Penn State’s offer was the only full scholarship Ham received. He would go on to become one of the best linebackers to ever play for the Nittany Lions, as well as helping to cement Penn State’s status as “Linebacker U.”
Ham was chosen in the 1971 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round. He spent 12 years in the NFL, all with the Steelers. By his retirement in 1982, Ham had four Super Bowl rings, had been to eight Pro Bowls, appeared on six first-team All-Pro teams and won the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Recounting his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988, Ham explained that, for some, choosing their presenter is a difficult decision. Ham only had one person in mind.
“Hall of Fame guys would always have two or three people that they would choose from to be their presenter at the Hall of Fame,” said Ham. “I didn’t have that problem. There was no one else that I wanted to present me at the Hall of Fame than Joe Paterno.”
After applause from the audience, including Paterno’s widow, Sue, Ham continued.
“I think Joe Paterno and the coaching staff had more confidence for me than I really had for myself.”
After the presentation of the plaque, Ham continued to describe how much Penn State means to him.
“When you’re 18 years old you can go a lot of different directions,” said Ham. “You get grounded here at Penn State, you end up leaving here after four years a mature young man.”

The plaque makes Penn State University the 113th school to become “Official School of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”



Disclaimer: Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.