After his college career at Kent State, Lambert was looked upon by most pro scouts as an undersized, albeit skilled player who was perhaps best suited to be a safety. That is, if he could even make an NFL roster. And that was doubted by many observers.
A handful of pro scouts, including a representative of the Steelers, visited the Kent State campus sometime prior to the 1974 draft. Several of Lambert’s teammates were more highly-regarded as NFL prospects, and Lambert was invited to participate in an assessment, almost as an afterthought.
The players were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. The assessment area was a parking lot, so the drills were non-contact, of course. The first station pitted a defender in pass coverage mode against a receiver, catching a ball thrown by a quarterback. The receiver ran a pattern, the defender tried to cover him and prevent the completion. If the ball was caught, the defender touched him with 2 hands and the play ended. All of the pairings went as designed, until only Lambert as a defender remained.
The receiver ran the pattern, an intermediate crossing route. Lambert shadowed him, close behind but too far away to prevent the completion. The receiver caught the ball and turned upfield, anticipating a soft touch and the end of the play. Instead, Lamber uncoiled. He hit the receiver full-go, head-on, and drove him as hard as possible onto the blacktop surface. The receiver was knocked senseless and bloody. Lambert stood, as everyone else watched in horror.
“If we’re going to play football,” he screamed, “then let’s play @#$%&*! football!”
The Steelers drafted him in the second round and immediately installed him at middle linebacker. Lambert knew only one way to play football - full contact, full effort, full potential. Live your life the same way.
From August 2010, http://raising-a-man.tumblr.com