Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lasting memories of Hines Ward

The Steelers made the tough, but logical, choice on Wednesday and announced their plans to release wide receiver Hines Ward.

Perhaps it's fitting that it occurred on Feb. 29, Leap Year.

One of my lasting memories of Ward – and there are plenty – will be his half-skip, half-leap in the end zone after catching the game-clinching touchdown pass from Antwaan Randle El in Super Bowl XL.

For 14 seasons, Ward has personified the Steelers organization. He was tough. He was gritty. He was a football player.

In an age when many wide receivers have been me-first prima donnas, Ward worked his tail off in all facets of the game.

When he was a special teams player, he was the best special teams player he could be. When he was needed as a blocker, he threw himself into it with reckless abandon. When he was relegated to being a backup, he did so gracefully.

Here's hoping he takes the giant hint the Steelers gave him Wednesday and doesn't attempt to try and come back another season elsewhere.

The Steelers made it quite obvious that they don't feel he can play any longer.

Their concerted effort to get him 1,000 receptions made their intentions obvious. They didn't want the season to end with Ward short of his goal because they were pretty sure they weren't going to bring him back.

And now that's the case.

Some will say that because of what Ward has meant for the team, the Steelers owed him the opportunity to come back.

But that's ridiculous. The Steelers took care of their debt to Ward in Week 17 in Cleveland when they got him his 1,000th catch.

They told him they didn't think he could play any longer.

He is choosing not to believe them.

And that's a shame.

Maybe Ward will come to his senses soon and realize that at 36, he not only can't, but doesn't need, to play football any longer.

The thought of Ward finishing out his career in another city playing for another team just isn't right.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very well put Dale. Very well put

KT said...

As tough as this is, I agree. Ward was just not the same last year, esp. after the injury.

Still, he was, is and will remain one of the great ones.

Lance said...

Could not agree more Dale. Hines is one of the all time Steeler greats. I do not know a Steeler fan who does not love Hines Ward, his style of play, his professionalism, and what he has meant to the organization, but as usual the Steelers made the tough choice and got it right. Hines simply can not play at an NFL level any longer.

Speaking of those wh can not play at an NFL level any longer, James Farrior should be next.

alexrkirby said...

A sad day for Hines and Steeler Nation...nothing lasts forever I guess.

The hardest thing to replace will be his leadership.

Nate said...

Ward always played with a chip on his shoulder, always looking to prove someone wrong.

He really has nothing left to prove on the football field. Two rings, 1,000 catches, a Super Bowl MVP trophy, and the unconditional love of an entire fan base.

This is his last chance to go out on top.

Anonymous said...

Truly a Great football player.

As far as I'm concerned he's a no-brainer Hall of Fame football player. "Stats are for losers" (and baseball and mere wide receivers).

I loved the one-shoe outrunning of DeAngelo Hall in 2006.

-Anonymous Brian

adamg said...

Ward epitomized Steeler football, but time waits for no man.

I'm not sure the Steelers handled this the best way PR-wise IF it's true they were merely non-commital when he asked for one more year. IMHO, Ward was owed the courtesy of being told straight up he very likely would not be brought back during his post-season exit interviews with Tomlin, Rooney or both.

I hope Ward retires as a Steeler and Steeler fans get to give him the sendoff he earned and richly deserves.

marc said...

dale,
with ward gone now. who will step up as the leader for the WR's? who has the best work ethic of the bunch?

Anonymous said...

Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.

Hines Ward..

I believe this should be put above the opening going out onto the field.

I'm not an autograph kinda guy, but that's one guy in all of sports that I wish I could have sign my 86 jersey.

Zeke

Tim said...

I never understood why people think a player playing below his normal level is such a bad thing. Like it offends their eyes so much to see someone in a different uniform or with lower stats or spending time on the bench that they think he should do what they want him to with his life. If the man wants to play because he loves the game, let him play until he can't make it in the NFL anymore. After that, he can play in some other league until he can't make it there anymore. And if we owe Hines anything, it's the right to do whatever he wants at this point. And not think our feelings are more important than his life. So I don't think it would be a shame to see him play somewhere else, and I don't think it would tarnish his legacy. The first one seems selfish, the second just stupid.

I think the way Jerry Rice's career ended was beautiful, although he never should have been run out of Oakland so they could develop Alvis Whitted instead. But I like that he said, "I don't care, I still want to play" and bounced around like a young player trying to make a roster. He loved it so much he made them throw him out, and what else would you expect from a player like him? Hines has my support in whatever he wants to do.

marc said...

well said tim.

Dale Lolley said...

The bottom line, Tim, is that you can only play as long as somebody's willing to pay you to do it - unless you're doing so in the back yard.
The Raiders were no longer willing to pay Rice to play, just as the Steelers are no longer willing to do so with Ward.
Time marches on.

Henigin said...

My favorite Hines moment: after the Steelers beat the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game in January 2009, Hines limped a lap around the stadium slapping the hands of the fans. He was so excited, and dangit, he didn't hit my hand as he went by.

HOF: if Art Monk made it, Hines can make it. Not 1st ballot, so it might be 8+ years, but heck yeah he should be in the Hall of Fame

Viktor said...

Always had that iconic smile on him too. I hope the younger receivers learned a lot from this warrior.

Lance said...

Tim you should be happy. The Steelers let Hines play until he couldn't make it in the NFL anymore.

Dirt4HOF said...

Now that I`ve had a day to think about it, I hope Hines gets a chance to see if he does have anything left in the tank. I have the greatest respect for the man and will miss his toughness but I wish him the best and hope he proves he`s right about still being able to contribute... Maybe we`ll see him finish out in Arizona.

Jim said...

I was think of places he could possibly find a roster spot and St. Louis came to mind. 1. Jeff Fisher has always loved poaching Steelers (see Chris Hope, Nate Washington). 2. They are AWFUL and one team who legitimately needs some veteran leadership. 3. Wide receiver has been a need for them, though that mostly has to do with having too many injured/mediocre ones, so maybe a 36-year-old Hines isn't the answer. That will, of course, be the issue with most teams.

marc said...

it will never happen because it's cleveland, but that is a perfect fit for him.

they will drafting a WR in the 1st or second round, they little going into his second year, and they will most likely bring in a good WR in free agency (other than ward). they may have RG3 or matt flynn, but regardless Ward would be the veteran guy to show the young guys how its done.

but, will never happen so never mind.

he will end up somewhere that uses 4-5 WR sets on a regular basis.

bruinmann77 said...

Dale what your thoughts on Now Smith being Cut and hearing Farrior is next.
I would have hoped Smith would have retired instead. Sad day in the steelers Nation.Dale do you feel the stelers have enough Veteran presence. They lost 3 key members on the DL. I was wondering who you feel will be the group of WR will be

adamg said...

Appears the Steelers are in full rebuilding mode with the latest release of Kemo. I won't be the least bit surprised if Wallace gets an offer and the Steelers decline to match it and they happily take that extra 1st round draft choice.

I guess the Rooneys et al decided to take one more shot at a SB with the current group and when that didn't pan out, time to cut vets and dump salary.

Tomlin and the coaches won't have much choice except to force feed the younger players into action.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

I don't see how this is a rebuilding. A. Smith hasn't played for the better part of 3 years. Ward's time was up halfway through last season, Farrior lost his speed two seasons ago, and Kemo most people have wanted gone since his big contract.

With Ward, Farrior, and Smith not being around, you lose some leadership, but in terms of quality play on the field, the Steelers are just getting out the old for the new and clearing much needed cap space in the process.

And if Wallace leaves for a first round pick, is that really indicative of a youth movement (especially for a guy who is 25 or so) or is it the fact he fell apart last season and they don't see eye to eye on his value?

Viktor said...

At first I was worried we might lose Wallace but beside his elite speed he is not at the same level as Megatron and Nicks for example and if memory serves me right both Brown and Wallace were 3rd round picks? At this point two first rounders does not sound bad at all. Maybe grab two fat guys for both sides of the line and maybe sign Jackson to replace Wallace? Then use our 2-4 round picks on a DB, WR, and ILb?

Anonymous said...

"I loved the one-shoe outrunning of DeAngelo Hall in 2006."

Probably the first play I think of when I think of Ward, even before the TD catch from ARE in the SB.

Anonymous said...

rebuilding....because kemo was released?? and aaron smith who hasn't played since in a long time already and our #5 receiver?

god i love steelers fans....

adamg said...

So far, the Steelers have either released or opted not to bring back 8 players who either started or were primary back ups. That's 20% of the game day roster and not counting guys like Essex and Farrior. These players will be replaced by draftees, UDFAs and former PS'ers.

That's rebuilding. Colbert admitted as much if you read between the lines of the interview he gave during the combine.

marc said...

adamg,
please list those 8 released players and their roles on the team last year. then list the player(s) that will be replacing them.

Anonymous said...

Who are these 8 starters adamg ? Stop being a drama queen

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