View Full Version : Ward still strives to prove himself

12-16-2006, 12:51 AM
Ward still strives to prove himself

By Scott Brown
Saturday, December 16, 2006

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has told anyone who will listen that Willie Parker deserves to make the Pro Bowl.

What the third-year running back appreciated just as much is the private endorsement Ward gave him after pulling him aside before practice on Thursday.

?He was basically telling me how hard I?ve been working and how far I?ve come,? Parker said. ?It kind of put a smile on my face when he told me that.?

Ward, who will return to the field Sunday after a two-game absence, has taken a liking to Parker because he said he can relate to the path the undrafted free agent has taken to the cusp of stardom.

Ward?s resume has four Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl MVP award on it.

But the player who has already secured a spot in Steelers' lore still sees himself, or at least fashions himself, as an underdog.

That much becomes apparent after he is asked how much making the Pro Bowl the first time meant to him. As memorable as that may have been, Ward said, it was more meaningful when he made the Pro Bowl after the 2004 season.

?Because every time I made the Pro Bowl (previously) people kept saying ?Well, it?s because of Plax (Plaxico Burress) on the other side,? ? Ward said. ?It seems like someone was always trying to put a knock on my accomplishments or what I was trying to do, and for Willie it?s kind of like the same.?

One thing critics, real or perceived, haven?t been able to knock is Ward?s toughness.

He is a ferocious downfield blocker who may well be trying to knock doubters along with defensive backs on their duffs, and Ward had only missed one game prior to this season.

Arthroscopic knee surgery sidelined him for the last two games, but he indirectly contributed to Steelers wins through his tutoring of second-year wide receiver Nate Washington and rookie Santonio Holmes.

Holmes said Ward is an ?inspiration? and that the latter talks to him regularly about the nuances of playing wide receiver and taking care of his body.

Washington has called the nine-year veteran a mentor, though Ward apparently prefers another title.

?I?m like Papa Smurf, the input I (gave) those guys,? said Ward, who has caught 57 passes for 786 yards and six touchdowns, ?and for them to go out and play well, I couldn?t be more excited. I?m not competing against Nate or Santonio. I don?t have anything to prove.?

Or does he?

As accomplished as he is, Ward still plays with the same edge he brought into the league after falling to the bottom of the third round in the 1998 NFL draft.

How much of that is part of his makeup or a way to keep himself motivated doesn?t matter so much as it helps with the latest challenge to crop up on Ward?s horizon: football mortality.

Ward essentially missed all of training camp with a hamstring problem and has been hobbled by his left knee since hyperextending it in a Nov. 19 game against the Browns.

He is at the point of his career where many players start slowing down ? and the Steelers? all-time leading receiver will be the first to point out that he was supposedly too slow to begin with ? especially those who are as cavalier with their body as Ward is on the field.

But Ward, 30, hardly seems ready to make any concessions to the inevitable wear and tear or young wide receivers like Washington and Holmes.

?Personally, I?ve got four or five more years if I want to continue going out there, doing it,? Ward said. ?When I lose the love for the game and not want to go out there and compete, that?s when it?s (time) for me to get out."


12-16-2006, 03:17 AM
HinesSmile runs the routes to a tee...Ben knows #86 can catch, so if Hines wants to play until he's 35, then its up to Hines....

As long as every Sunday morning Hines wants to play a "pick up game" in the NFL he'll be a model WR for our STEELERS...

He will always BLOCK... and when he can't do that I think Hines will walk away...

And here I thought nobody could replace Stallworth, and Swann.....

12-16-2006, 10:51 AM
Hines might be the next Steeler WR in the history books, and a certain place in Ohio...:cheers:


12-17-2006, 02:35 AM
You gotta love 'em!

12-17-2006, 07:13 AM
:tt02: Anyone who Doesnt love Hines Ward is not a true football fan... I dont care who your favorite team is. The man works hard every day and it shows up every sunday afternoon. Yeh... he is a great blocker and all... and he catches that ball pretty well..... but we lost one big leader when we lost the Bus last offseason and I think that we are chatting about the next big great club house leader..

12-17-2006, 08:28 AM
Hines might be the next Steeler WR in the history books, and a certain place in Ohio...:cheers:


A huge AMEN to that! :cheers: Hines is not and never has been a "Me Me" type of player like some of the other wideouts around the league. He knows his role and goes above and beyond to make sure the younger guys learn theirs - a TOTAL teamer! :thumbsup:

12-17-2006, 09:24 AM
What a great attitude! And don't ya just love to see that smile! :grin:

12-17-2006, 09:41 AM
One thing I like about Hines. He'll fight until he can't anymore.