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Pittsburgh Steelers
"I drilled him."
"Lambert didn't see me coming until the last instant. He tried to square up but couldn't, and I drilled him -- just floored him. The play went for a score, and he got up cussing and yelling with the wildest eyes I've ever seen!" More...
Guest Article: An encounter with Jack Lambert
My Fight with Lambert
An entertaining first-hand account of a rookie tight end's encounter with Jack

Article by Mark Dufresne

I was a failed Steeler draft choice as a tight end coming out of Nebraska in 1978 (7th round, selected 187th overall), but during my brief stint with the team, I experienced a couple of memorable Jack Lambert moments first hand that I thought your readers would enjoy.

Lambert was as intimidating in camp as he was in games... maybe even more so. Nobody messed with Jack. NOBODY. His respect was solid within the team. He was his own man and was not into political correctness in the slightest, because I believe his heart was pure and he was comfortable within himself. At our first team lunch with the vets in camp, we -- rookies and star veterans alike -- had to stand up and introduce ourselves and the school we played at. When it came his turn, Jack stood up on his chair and yelled out loud like a Marine drill sergeant, "I'm Jack Lambert, I'm from mother-f**king Grambling, and if you don't like it, you can kiss my skinny white ass!" He sat back down without even a trace of a smile, and the place went nuts, howling and laughing. Grambling is, of course, a predominantly "black" state university in Louisiana.

My other personal story occured during a very important Sunday scrimmage we had shortly before the season started. We were all very tired and ornery after several weeks of camp, and I -- like everyone else -- was in no mood for anyone to be hassling me. I was a 6'3", 240-pound rookie tight end, so I had about 20 pounds on Lambert. The particular play called for me to release inside and block down hard on Lambert to set up a sweep around the right side. Lambert didn't see me coming until the last instant. He tried to square up but couldn't, and I drilled him -- just floored him. The play went for a score, and he got up cussing and yelling with the wildest eyes I've ever seen! I was fairly certain that Mr. Lambert did not appreciate being decked, especially by a rookie like me.

Current photo of Dufresne.

Dufresne played his college ball at Nebraska.

Dufresne sprints past a defender for a score.

Dufresne goes airborne for a tough grab.
Making sure that everyone (especially Lambert) could hear him, Coach Noll runs over to me and yells "Great block, Mark! Super hit! You knocked Jack flat on his ass! That's what I wanna see from every tight end in camp! Now let's go, line it up again right now, same play!"

Oh sh*t, Coach! You gotta be kiddin' me! Run it again? Oh, sh*t! I glanced over at Lambert, who was now clearly cranked up a couple of notches beyond ferocious. Had he any teeth, he would have been spitting through them. As we broke the huddle, Noll brushed by me with a thin-lipped grin and half-whispered in my ear-hole, "Let's see what happens this time, rookie." So we line it up again, and by this time Lambert is practically jumping out of his skin. I feel a virtual hug of kinship and understanding from a number of my offensive teammates, some of whom lowered their heads (perhaps in a brief silent prayer for me). On defense, they were all smiles... they knew what was coming.

So Bradshaw takes the snap and L.C. Greenwood (nicknamed "Hollywood Bags") mysteriously allows me to slip past him without a touch (wow, I'm pretty quick, huh?) and before I could go more than about three steps, WHAM! Lambert hits me at full speed and flattens me like I'm a 3rd string punter! Not to be cliche, but I suspect my momma felt that hit... it left me a bit dazed. Lambert then steps on me and catapults over my body to make a vicious hit on Thunder Thornton (our 2nd-year running back), who was trailing me on the play. Needless to say, Jack stopped Thornton cold, then proceeded to stand over me, screaming and hollering and calling me some very bad names. In the heat of the moment, I lost my head. As Lambert turned to walk away, I dug my way out from under Thornton (who was still draped across my legs, perhaps shaking out the cobwebs), angrily scrambled to me feet and took a swing at Lambert, catching him flush across the earhole.

In retrospect, that was not a very smart thing for a rookie tight end to do to an already angry Jack Lambert. I thought he was mad before... but he wasn't. Now he was mad. We exchanged some wild punches -- and what can only be described as "colorful" language -- before the coaches and some teammates pulled us apart. I was never so relieved in my life! I didn't sense that relief from him, however.

It turned out to be my only really memorable time with the great Steelers of the late-70's, as I was cut soon after. I'm suspect he'd have no memory of it, since I don't imagine it was an isolated incident in his long career. But it was certainly memorable for me. How a skinny body like his could have packed so much punch is just beyond me. That's the difference between simply great players and mythical legends, I guess...

It was fun for me to get that "cup of coffee" in the bigs, with the greatest team in NFL history without a doubt. Even my failure was a success for me, so I was proud to have been given the chance.

Written by Mark Dufresne

P.S. -- I was in the 1978 photos from camp at Latrobe, and my number (for that very short time) was 87. I didn't make it to the end, so I am not in any official pictures, and I don't have any snapshots of my own. I actually wrote the Steeler office a few years back to see if they had anything from that camp, and they didn't. Bummer! If anyone has any snapshots from '78 training camp, please contact us!

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Fan Smak & Analysis
The following articles are listed in the order they were received (with the most recent entries at the BOTTOM). This isn't a "guestbook" format... I read and manually insert every message, so you may not see your submission show up immediately. Thanks a million for your comments, people!

Author: dlkine
Comment: Great Story

That's a great story! I even felt the hit he put on Mark!

Author: Big Bubba
Comment: Lambert...Still the Baddest

I always knew Jack was the baddest LB to ever play!
Great story!
Author: SteelerKraut
Comment: GREAT Lambert piece

You said it already, Tim. Great piece! I wish you could get more authors like that!!! Good to see you tending to your faithful website flock again.
Author: Bounts Iron City
Comment: Jack the jacker

That was cool story, you guys should have a piece on current steelers each week and then have a thread for responses,,,,,Little tidbits on current steelers like Big Ben, and Hines doing good or interesting
Author: The Ghost
Comment: Great Article

It is a great article and just goes to show the type of intensity that has been lacking on recent Steeler teams, especially on defense ( not since Greg Lloyd). It helps explain why some of us old timers have been spoiled by watching players who really knew how to play the game and why we become frustrated with the lack of intensity.

Perhaps the new Steelers coaches will get back to "Steeler Football" this year!
Author: baday12345
Comment: article

thats a cool story....from a guy on 'the inside'.

thanks for sharing.
Author: OkieSteelerFan
Comment: Re: article

Awesome story!!! To Tim - welcome back dude - glad to see you are still alive.
Author: NOYFB
Comment: Great Story

What a perspective...actually hitting Jack Lambert...a momentary lapse of reason for sure.

Can you imagine being on the field with all those players?
Author: charles1961
Comment: lucky

that guys is lucky hes still alive and didnt get killed or hurt real bad!!!!

wasnt there nother guy on another team name "Butkis" that played on another defense that was said to be the meanest player...

cant be true cause Jack lambert during a game with him spit on Butkis and Butkis backed down and walked away.. the players on the bench was expecting them two to beat each other up.. but Butkis backed down insted..

I saw that on NFL highlights about "Jack lambert, count dracula in cleets"

to bad the steelers dont have more players like him that gives %100 each game... no doubt if we did, we'd have won another couple of sb's by now..
Author: McMillenAndWife
Comment: Butkus

Actually, it was Mean Joe Greene who spit on Butkus. I think Butkus retired the year before Lambert was drafted.
Author: Terry12
Comment: 58

I love Jack! Went to his football camp when I was a kid.
Talked to him several times.
I remember him telling us " If you have to be motivated to play football, you are in the wrong sport!"

Jack and his staff made us run a mile before we could eat breakfast - LOL

Maybe Jack should be the next Steeler Coach? He would make these cry baby millionaires earn their paycheck! - LOL
Author: NOYFB
Comment: Re: 58

Maybe Jack should be the next Steeler Coach? He would make these cry baby millionaires earn their paycheck! - LOL
Wouldn't that be a ticket seller...

Far as I know...he's spending time with his kids in wester PA and helping the conservation dept.

I heard when he played...he would do ride-alongs with the Pitt Police...just so he could beat the hell out of people...I doubt it's true...but the story is good.

Author: charles1961
Comment: lambert

thats not what one of the steelr players on nfl highlights said.... he said lambert spit on Butkis's face and the whole bench was expecting them two to go at it.. Butkis the guy said just walked away...

even by chance he was wrong and it was Greene, I bet Lambert wouldn't have backed down either..

last i saw was he was teaching high school football...
Author: McMillenAndWife
Comment: Lambert & Butkus

I checked it out on the Hall of Fame site, Charles... Butkus retired in '73. Lambert wasn't drafted until '74. It was definitely Joe Greene.
Author: fullboat
Comment: One Mean Mother

Extra point or field goal against Miami, Steelers miss,Miami Player taps the steeler kicker on his helmet a couple of times out of joy, Jack grabs him and throws him to the ground like a rag doll...Am I acurate guys? My memory's a little foggy.....
Author: McMillenAndWife
Comment: It was Super Bowl X

Actually, that happened in Super Bowl X vs. Dallas, and Cowboys safety Cliff Harris was Lambert's "rag doll" victim. The game turned right then and there.
Author: rkind
Comment: Re: One Mean Mother

That was great!!!! When I saw the reply of the game recently Pat Summerall was on the call and in a monotone voice he said, "And Lambert just threw Harris to the ground."

Lambert was awesome...
Author: charles1961
Comment: yea

yea, that one play changed the whole outcome of the game I believe, cause it Made Lambert play at a higher level or rage after that and Dallas couldn't take it...

Harris's Mistake probably cost the Cowgirls a chance at winning the game....

You don't po the meanest player on the opposing team and dont expect to pay for it!!
Author: Mantua Steel
Comment: Lambert crazy & the greatest

I grew up in the same town that Jack Lambert did and although he is somewhat older than me, we have some mutual friends. From the stories they have told me, he was as crazy as he was good! I think Mark Dufrense got off light. I truly believe he is the greatest linebacker EVER to play the game. He played using pure adrenalin and a desire to be the best, not steroids and other illegal drugs. It was an honor to play on the same high school field as Jack and I will always look up to him as a man and as the greatest Steeler ever.
Author: bigdog
Comment: linebackers

Great piece on Jack Lambert. I grew up in Butler loving the Steelers, during the glory years. The early ninetys were also good for linebackers. I loved Gregg Lloyd! Could you imagine Jack Lambert, Gregg Lloyd, and Ray Lewis on the same team!

Oh, by the way, the 70's are the past. It was a great past, but for all you Steeler fans who still dwell and live there concerning the Steelers - WAKE - UP, it's 2004! Go Steelers! Prediction: 12 - 4 Win Superbowl!
Author: AUGIE J

Oh Yes..the good old days of yelling out car and pretending to be a Steeler!

One of those childhood moments I'll never forget.

Playing what the catholic school called tag-football. I decked a kid and knocked him senseless and got suspended for 3 days, came home explained to my dad that I was playing linebacker like Lambert, and was expecting to get grounded for being suspended. All he said was "Good Job Son !!

Never will a person understand the pride that we all felt in them days unless you were there.

Thanks Jack!!!!

Augie J.

Grew up in Baldwin Boro
Author: SteelerFan
Comment: Lambert Look!!!

You know he was the greatest linebacker ever, not totally by the way he played, but by the actual fear he put in the opposition. Too Tall, L.T. nobody put the fear into another player like Jack Lambert. Can you imagine what would be going through the minds of a player staring across the line of scrimmage from Jack while he was growling at them.

Give me a player like that now-adays!!!
Author: SteelerFan
Comment: Lambert Look!!!

You know he was the greatest linebacker ever, not totally by the way he played, but by the actual fear he put in the opposition. Too Tall, L.T. nobody put the fear into another player like Jack Lambert. Can you imagine what would be going through the minds of a player staring across the line of scrimmage from Jack while he was growling at them.

Give me a player like that now-adays!!!
Author: LAMBERT58
Comment: "JACK!!!"

Lambert has got to be the most exciting and excitable LB to have ever played on the gridiron. My favorite memory is Kenny Anderson's "WELCOME TO THE NFL"!!!! Do you remember?
Author: LambertBestAllTime
Comment: Badass

Jack Lambert was the biggest badass linebacker to ever play. I've still not seen a defensive player just absolutely DOMINATE a game, especially after someone pissed him off. L.T. was good, but he wasn't as good as Lambert. Same with Ray Lewis.
Author: BigBenFanMan
Comment: Jack, Mean Joe, remembering the 70's...

Hiya all, long time listener first time caller...

Those 70's teams, and their glories, are not only the baseline for what's happening today -- but a launching point for Big Ben and the boys for Sunday, and the future. All those games against the cleveland oranges (why the heck aren't they called the Cleveland Oranges btw...?) give this game a flavor like no other. So give those great 70's teams a bump!

Speaking of the oranges, and particularly about Mean Joe who was posted earlier, does anyone else recall this great moment? I could possibly have this wrong, and I am posting this to have my memory either upheld or please post with a correction if not other memories. Anyways, the memory I have is of Mean Joe lying Brian Sipe out during a game in maybe...79? 80? I remember him holding out his hand to Sipe, lifting him partway off of the turf, then dropping him back to the ground, and walking away.

Does anyone else recall anything similar, or did I dream this? lol

Great site M&W, found it by pure luck googling... will return often!

Author: mcmillenandwife
Comment: Re: Jack, Mean Joe, remembering the 70's...

I remember him holding out his hand to Sipe, lifting him partway off of the turf, then dropping him back to the ground, and walking away.
Seems like I recall something like that happening... but I think Dan Pastorini (Houston Oilers) was the QB in question, not Sipe. I could be wrong.
Author: bandannasue
Comment: Great Story!

Loved the story! I was smiling the whole time I read it, and that is the exact reaction you get from any Steeler fan when you utter the name Jack Lambert. Go ahead...try it. Instant smile, guaranteed! And I don't think people are living in the past bigdogg or trying to take anything away from the badass, awe-inspiring players who are on the field today...just giving due respect to one of the greats who will never be forgotten. LUV YA BLACK n GOLD!!
Author: john
Comment: jacks hit

i think jack lambert and lc greenwood and joe green and the rest of the steelers are the best team ever and todays team is just like them we will win this years super bowl keep up the great work go steelers
Author: BigBenFanMan
Comment: JACK....memories!

Thanks so much for responding M&W, and I'm sure you're right about the QB in question being DP! My memory is like swiss cheeze these days.

14-1, what an unbelievable season!
GO BLACK & GOLD!! Jacksonville bound!!

Author: lambertslunatic
Comment: #58

i can still picture him running in place waiting for the snap of the ball. TOTAL EXCITEMENT!! i will never forget him tossing cliff harris to the ground for messing with roy gerella(sp). of all my steelers gear...58 is the only number i wear. YOU HAD TO LOVE HIM!! HE WAS STEELER FOOTBALL!!!! GO STEELERS!!!
Author: OutlawFrog
Comment: Jack Lambert.. American Badass

Growing up in the 70's in Az we didn't have a professional football team (We still don't for that matter).. I was 11 when adopted the team that had "Mean Joe" and wore the "Black and Gold" as the team that I would cheer for.. I would quickly become a devote fan of Jack Lambert.. Gawd he was a badass.. In back yard football games, in my mind, I WAS Jack Lambert, or tried to be as close to him as I could be.. In HS, even though I was defensive end, I wore what Lambert did.. I even had a tube sock stuffed with padding for a neck roll.. I kept my teeth though..

I remember something that had to do with the Cleveland Browns and a fight where the Browns clothes-lined one of the Steeler receivers and Lambert came off the bench after the Browns defense.. Anyone remember that??

Great site BTW... Thanks...
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