By the time former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s coaching career at Penn State had gotten its legs, linebacker Jack Ham had established himself as one of the National Football League’s most dominant players.
A name familiar to most Penn Staters from Pittsburgh, Ham played in eight straight Pro Bowls for the Steelers before getting enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. Ham is now an analyst for the Penn State Sports Network.
Ham was an All-American when he played at Penn State, but he only played one full season with Sandusky at the helm of the defense.
Though Ham said he didn’t know Sandusky that well because he didn’t play under him extensively, he said he had some involvement in the Second Mile Golf Tournaments and offered an opinion on the situation as a whole.
“Obviously, I am shocked at this,” Ham said in an interview. “No one can envision this kind of thing happening.”
Ham noted that he didn’t really have an altered opinion of Sandusky himself through the trial because he didn’t know him well enough to begin with.
However, Ham was a bit more opinionated when it came to praising the job done by the jury and discussing Penn State’s recovery from the Sandusky scandal.
“Give the jury all the credit in the world,” Ham said. “They looked at all the evidence out there, and they came to a just verdict, and I tip my hat off to the jury for doing a great job.”
Moving forward, Penn State still awaits the trials of former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Interim Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, who are facing charges of perjury and failure to report suspected abuse. Penn State’s internal investigation of the handling of reports of child sex abuse, headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh, is also ongoing.
As such, Ham said the verdict in the Sandusky case is merely the beginning.
“This is one man, and the other court cases will go forward,” Ham said. “I think this is a start to finally have this case come to a conclusion, though there will be appeals and so forth, to have this case come to a conclusion is a step… It’s a process, but there’s a lot of quality things about Penn State University.”
The final issue discussed by Ham was former head football coach Joe Paterno’s standing. Ham played under Paterno for his whole career at Penn State and said his experience with him goes back over 40 years.
In an earlier interview, Ham praised Paterno, saying he “did more for me than anyone else in my life.”
Ham said when considering the late Paterno, the fact that he could have done more is part of a greater package.
“There’s a body of work, I’m sure,” Ham said. “This is part of it for Joe Paterno, but the overwhelming part of Joe Paterno and the things he did for this university, you cannot forget about that as well. Joe Paterno, for me, is a tremendous individual, and this is part of his legacy, and that is part of the total package for Joe Paterno.”