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A Rose By Any Other Name
Paul Zimmerman
July 30, 1984
Steeler linebacker Jack Lambert is not known as a sweetie, but he sure knows the sweet smell of success
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July 30, 1984

A Rose By Any Other Name

Steeler linebacker Jack Lambert is not known as a sweetie, but he sure knows the sweet smell of success

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By his junior year he had begun to shoot up, and as a 6'3�", 170-pound senior he became a dominating force—in all his sports.

"He averaged 17.9 points and 13 rebounds in basketball," Cox says. "People say, 'Wow, Jack Lambert on a basketball court, he must have sent bodies flying,' but he wasn't like that. He was smart, technically very sound. He always knew what had to be done. In his senior year Kent Roosevelt High had a 6'5" kid named Andy Steigmeier who later made All-State and played for Ohio State, a real cocky kid. Before the game Jack said to me, 'Can I guard him?' Jack got four fouls on him at halftime, and the kid fouled out early in the second half and we won by a point.

"You'd never see Jack lose his temper out there. When he got mad he got real quiet. When he didn't like a call he'd hold the ball maybe an extra second or two before he threw it back to the ref, but he wasn't the kind of guy who'd throw a basketball up to the ceiling."

In football Lambert played quarterback ("Handed the ball off mostly," he says) and on defense he made all league as a weakside cornerback—squirmback, they called it at Crestwood.

"He was my fourth-fastest of four starting defensive backs," Myers says. "He didn't get his speed till he got to college, but no one ever completed anything deep over him. His first step was always correct. He always knew the angles. And God, would he hit 'em. First they stopped throwing curls in front of him, then they just stopped throwing to the split end in general.

"He was intense, dedicated. He used to say, 'I don't know where I'm gonna play someday and I don't care, but I will play.' He'd play in pain, too. He played against Field High his senior year with a sprained ankle, a deep calf bruise that was black and blue, a knee sprain and a thigh bruise that was starting to turn purplish-yellow. Oh yes, he also had a hip pointer that would have kept anyone else out of the game. Our wrestling coach, Frank DiNapoli, taped him from ankle to waist. We held him out on offense, but he went the whole way on defense and we won 20-0."

Myers, who'd played tight end and captained his team at Miami of Ohio, tried to get Lambert into his old school. Miami's coach was Bill Mallory. He told Myers that Lambert was too slow to play the secondary in college; maybe, if he got up around 220, he'd be a defensive end someday, but not at Miami.

"I told Mallory, 'You'd better hope he goes outside the Mid-America Conference,' " Myers says, " 'because someday he's gonna come back and beat you.' He did, too, his junior year at Kent. Beat 'em on a goal-line stand. He made four straight tackles inside the two.

"But I'll tell you the truth, I was worried. I mean if you can't even get a guy into your own school, geez. Wisconsin toyed around for a while. So did a few MAC schools, but no one would give him a full scholarship."

Cox finally swung the deal for him at Kent State.

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