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First and 10: Leave the Past in the Past

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Steelers LB Jack Ham

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager candidate Doug Whaley drew some attention this week for suggesting that Pro Football Hall of Famer Jack Ham would have a tough go of things in today’s NFL.

“Jack Ham would be a special team’s backup. He was 215 pounds,” Whaley said. “Show me a linebacker that weighs 215 pounds that plays in the NFL today.”

Of course, you can’t. Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush is consider slight for the position at 234. And there’s no way Ham could have matched his 4.43-second 40-yard dash time. Fellow off-ball linebacker Myles Jack checks in at 255.

Backup safety and special teams ace Miles Killebrew weighs 222 pounds, and probably represents the kind of player that Ham could be now, but Killebrew ran a 4.51-second laser-time 40-yard dash, far faster than the alleged hand-time 4.7-second dash of Ham’s youth.

Ham was one of the best off-ball linebackers to ever play the game, but the game has changed a good bit in 50 years and he would be out of place in the modern era. So would most of his teammates from the 1970s.

Steelers center Mike Webster played at 255 pounds. The lightest man on the current Steelers offensive line is 290-pound rookie Jake Dixon, whose first assignment this summer is likely getting that figure to something that starts with a 3.

The players are bigger, faster and strong. The game is played differently. Of course players from 50 years ago would look out of place in the modern NFL. It takes nothing away from their accomplishments. Let’s just leave the past in the past.

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