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The Steelers 1977 season begins here>>>

HIGH STAKES IN THE LAMBERT POKER GAME

While the rest of the team attempted to go through preseason with their focus on playing football, there was a different game being played out behind the scenes. When Joe Greene was named the defensive team captain to replace Andy Russell, the agent of Jack Lambert said the player felt hurt.

Jack Lambert media photo“Jack is taking this very personally now,” said Greg Lustig, Lambert’s attorney, claiming Noll and linebacker coach Woody Widenhofer phoned Lambert before the start of training camp to offer Lambert the position of captain if he came to camp.

“Unfortunately, Jack really wanted the captain’s job,” continued Lustig. “He considered it a tremendous honour. It was very important to him, but he was insulted when they tried to use it as a wedge. He took it as a cheap shot.”

Dan Rooney suggested the player’s agent, Bucky Woy, wasn’t doing a very good job of running the publicity campaign from Dallas, adding he couldn’t didn’t think the agent could do a good job of running the football from there either.

“Our position is that we want Jack back,” offered Rooney. “We think he’s a Rooney. I didn’t hear anything new in their statement that I didn’t hear in the past. I’m still very hopeful we will get him back. A lot of guys who have been out of other camps are coming in.”

Woy insisted Lambert wouldn’t play until his demands were met. “There’s nothing to negotiate,” he said. “They can pay him or trade him.”

1977 Exhibition game 2: The Pittsburgh Steelers at the Kansas City Chiefs

Fortunately for the Steelers, this was just a preseason game. With the veterans starting, the Steelers led 14-0 after the first quarter, despite a Terry Bradshaw fumble and an interception in the end zone.

Cliff Stoudt came on during the second period supported by four other rookies and had a nightmare. He fell down once and threw three interceptions as the Chiefs came back into the game reducing their deficit to 13-14 at halftime.

Mike Kruczek was given an outing in the third quarter, but was unable to put any points on the board until the rookie linemen were pulled by the Coach Noll. Kansas took the lead in the final quarter before Kruczek, with the veteran linemen back in, was able to put an 80-yard drive together.  When Laverne Smith finished it with a touchdown run of 10 yards, the Steelers were 21-20 ahead.

With just 15 seconds left, Jan Stenerud kicked a 29-field goal to hand the Chiefs the win.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 21 at the Kansas City Chiefs 23
Arrowhead Stadium August 12 1977; 28,584

“We tried to play some young people,” said Coach Noll, “but they made too many mistakes and it killed us,” before adding, “mistakes, mistakes, mistakes.” Of Stoudt’s unfortunate performance, Noll observed, “He got his feet wet.”

“It doesn’t feel good to lose, even in preseason,” Joe Greene observed. “But some good will come out of this. We always do good after we lose.”


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This site last updated June 19th 2016.

Ben's early games with the Steelers.

The Steelers 1976 season in full.
The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

The first NFL champions the 1902 Pittsburgh Stars added June 2016

The Pittsburgh Americans added August 2015.

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