June 20, 1984: A few years ago we wandered over to Heinz Field shortly before a Steelers game and conducted an informal survey. We asked tailgating fans, “Who was the toughest Steeler ever?” The overwhelming favorite: Jack Lambert. We remember his ferocious intensity, and the way he bruised opponents during 11 seasons as a Steeler linebacker. Who can forget that iconic image of a toothless Lambert scowling at the camera?
Well, here’s another side of the man. During picture day at Steelers training camp in 1984, Lambert cuddled a young fan, who was unidentified in the caption. Gone is the famous Lambert sneer. Here, his appearance is softened by a smile, and the fact that he’s wearing dentures (he had lost his front teeth when he was elbowed in a high school basketball game). He’s a tough guy, certainly, but one with a heart.
The ‘84 season would be Lambert’s last. He suffered a serious toe injury and played only eight games. In 1990, Lambert was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
(Photo by Charles Fox, Pittsburgh Press)
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