The tremendous folks at Comcast contacted me recently and asked me if I wanted to talk to Jack Ham. I’m not the smartest guy in the room but who would say “no” to that opportunity?
Ham was doing a media circuit in combination with Comcast’s new XFinity 1 Sports App. It’s not everyday you get to talk to a Hall of Famer, let alone one from the team you follow so closely. Therefore, I jumped at the chance.
If you’re already a Comcast customer then you know how well they do sports. The XFinity 1 Sports App will take things to a new level and in an easy-to-use way. Whether you’re a sports fan in general, a fantasy guru or just follow one team, the new app allows you to see stats in real time right on the screen next to the action.
The app is one-touch accessible with a dedicated button right on the remote and it really does bring sports to life like never before.
The short video below gives you an idea of what it looks like as well as the screen grabs that follow later.
I found it funny he didn’t want me to call him “Mr. Ham…” What a personable and energetic guy!
ME: Let me ask you about the defense. Was the preseason made to look as “vanilla” as it was to most of us?
Ham: “Absolutely. Teams don’t game plan in the preseason because the coaches are more interested in evaluation. What can this guy do? What can that guy do? It’s almost like the old Oklahoma Drill we used to do where you’re trying to establish who the baddest and best are.”
ME: Should we really expect as many four-man fronts during the regular season as we saw being utilized during the preseason?
Ham: “No. At the end of the day you’ll still see a 3-4 defense but the game has changed. Passing is so difficult to defend now that you have to get guys like Ryan Shazier who can be effective as run supporters and pass defenders. He’s essentially another strong safety out there. Patience is something few fans, especially Steelers’ fans have but patience will be needed.”
ME: Let me move over to the offense… Bill Belichick is great at taking away your best player on offense. No one has really proven to be able to “take Antonio Brown” out of a game so how does this play out?
Ham: “The biggest factor here is who isn’t playing and that’s Le’Veon Bell. Without him, it makes it that much easier for the Patriots to roll the safety to Brown’s side or even use a linebacker because that backer no longer has to worry about being one-on-one with Bell. I suspect Belichick will give numerous looks in an attempt to limit what Brown can do.”
ME: With No Bell or Martavis Bryant, who do you think steps up to fill the void?
Ham: “I think Heath Miller, who isn’t a young man anymore, will still be a major target for Ben. His ability to find holes in zones and get open in the red zone will be very important tomorrow night.”
ME: “I have to ask you about Coach Noll. How would he have dealt with the players being so high-profile and active on social media the way they are today?”
Ham: “First of all, Chuck was the type of guy who could have walked off of the football field and right into a job as a CEO of a company. He was that type of coach. He didn’t want to be bothered with all the “outside stuff” because he felt he had enough to do in terms of preparing his team to play at a high level. The one thing I know he would have resisted would Twitter (laughs). He would have been dragged kicking and screaming to something like that.”
We were eventually joined by Comcast VP of Product Management Peter Nush and as we bantered back and forth, they asked me about my “day job” which as many of you, is an educator. Ham finished the interview with a great story related to this…
Ham: “Marc, obviously you know L.C. Greenwood… He was actually a substitute teacher here in the Pittsburgh Area and you’d think he would have an easy time commanding a classroom at 6′ 8″ tall and 25o pounds! One day he walked in and the kids were so out of control they set fire to his desk (laughs all around). They could have cared less who he was.”
ME: “Thanks Jack, suddenly I’m not so sure about the class I have coming in next….”
As I’m sure you can relate, getting the opportunity to chat with Jack Ham for 15 minutes was truly awesome. Like many of the guys of that generation there was no instance of ego or attitude whatsoever with him. It was as friendly as a chat with your next door neighbor.
I want to thank Mr. Ham, Zack Smith at Taylor Strategies as well as Comcast PR Man Bob Grove and Mr. Nush. I encourage you to check out their new app and take it for a spin.