View Full Version : Monday Madden: So, what if Ward doesn't play?

01-26-2009, 06:25 AM
Monday Madden: So, what if Ward doesn't play?

By Mark Madden, Special to The Times
Published: Monday, January 26, 2009 12:00 AM EST
Even as Hines Ward subjects his sprained knee to “accelerated” rehab, whatever that is, coach Mike Tomlin must think about facing a very difficult decision.

What if Ward can’t play?

Ward will doubtless be able to trot out onto the field in Tampa and be a semblance of a receiver. But what if he’s only 60-70 percent? What if he’s too hobbled to help the Steelers as much as a healthy Limas Sweed? (Ward would probably have to lose a hand for that to be the case, and maybe not even then.)

Heaven forbid Ward thinks he can play but Tomlin doesn’t use him. Ward would never let anybody hear the end of it.

It’s a tough decision. In 1995, Steelers’ defensive back Rod Woodson tore a knee ligament in the season’s first game but returned to the lineup for Super Bowl XXX 19 weeks later. Woodson played only 12 snaps. After breaking up a pass intended for Dallas’ Michael Irvin, Woodson jumped up and joyously pointed to his knee.

The Steelers lost. Woodson didn’t blow the game, but coach Bill Cowher played Woodson mostly out of perceived obligation to a respected veteran. Tomlin seems like he would be more cutthroat in a similar situation, but spent most of last week saying Ward would play when really, he had no way of yet knowing.

Ward is the second-most important component of the Steelers offense, trailing only Ben Roethlisberger. But playing on one leg would surely cramp his physical style.

No matter what anyone says, no decision on Ward has been made. Ward, Tomlin and the Steelers organization can be as optimistic as they would like. But it all depends on what happens to that knee between now and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ward is having the time of his life.

Ward is an attention junkie, and this gives him a chance to mainline every day. He sets alarms for midnight, 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. so he can get up and rehab. He’s sending his hyperbaric oxygen chamber to Tampa. He guarantees he’ll play, except when he says he won’t play if he’s not going to help the team.

Ward’s bum knee got him on the front page of a Pittsburgh newspaper. Not the front page of the sports section; the front page, period. I thought he got inaugurated.

Is Ward dramatizing his injury so he can get more media? I don’t know. But he sure says some entertaining things.

How, exactly, do you rehab 24/7? That sounds like Robert Downey Jr. after a drug bust. If you can, indeed, “accelerate” rehab, why doesn’t everybody? Will Ward’s dedication combine with his superior molecular structure to magically heal an injury that caused a lesser man (Willie Parker) to miss five games? Or is Ward’s problem just less severe?

If Ward plays, and performs well, he can say, “Nobody gave me a chance to do this.” If he plays, and does poorly, he has a built-in excuse. If he doesn’t play and the Steelers win, he’s a martyr. If he doesn’t play and the Steelers lose, Ward is the missing link. If the Steelers win and Ward is MVP, he’s a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ward couldn’t have scripted this any better. All he needs is a little boy in a hospital bed (also with an injured knee) and the kid says, “Hines, please go out there and catch a touchdown for me.” Ward does, of course, and the kid gets out of bed and miraculously starts dancing. Larry Fitzgerald says, “Hines, you’re not just the leader of the Steelers’ wideouts. You’re the leader of ALL the wideouts.” At the conclusion of the Hines Ward Sprained MCL Telethon, Jerry Lewis rewrites the lyrics to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and sings, “We thought you’d never walk again, but you sure showed us.”

Oh, and the Steelers win. I love a happy ending.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

01-26-2009, 08:39 AM
Wow I can't believe that article was written by Mark Madden. I expect Ward to be out there on Sunday. And if he can't go then Holmes, Washington, Miller and Sweed are gonna have to step up and make some plays.

01-26-2009, 08:44 AM
WOW - Tubby Tuba actually penned a somewhat positive (though he takes his usual little shots) article on a Steelers player. :jawdrop: Has hell frozen over?

I can almost guarantee Ward will play in XLIII. I'd rather have Hines at 60-70% than no Hines at all. As fatsho said - he is a key component to the Steelers O, not just from a receiving standpoint, but also his blocking abilities, physical play and what he means to the team overall.

C'mon Hines - get workin' on getting that knee in shape - we need you out there! :drink:

01-26-2009, 08:46 AM
Wow.. Hey, Madden being sarcastically critical of a Steeler? Someone wake me up when this blowhard something original.

01-26-2009, 09:26 AM
Madden's been ranting about this all last week. Ward will play. I think if he isn't up to par, they might drop a man on the double team, which them will open up Ward for a couple odd plays. If Sweed blocks like he did against the Ravens, as per Ward's sideline coaching, that will go a long way to open things up for Heath, Santino, and Nate.

They are running out of things to talk about in Pittsburgh and in the national press. Wait a painful seek of hype this will be!

01-26-2009, 09:43 AM
Wow I can't believe that article was written by Mark Madden. I expect Ward to be out there on Sunday. And if he can't go then Holmes, Washington, Miller and Sweed are gonna have to step up and make some plays.

Miller is always there to make the plays. he's a great weapon that tends to fly under the radar from time to time. but he's got great hands and he knows how to take hits and run the ball.

Holmes is getting more and more looks in the latter part of the year and he could be the big game breaker for Sunday if Hines has to sit out. i know he'll play though.

as for Sweed, he's got a lot to prove yet. but that block on Cory Ivey might just be the way to go about getting recognized as a better all around player. but nobody blocks like Ward. =)

i like all of our weapons and i'm sure they will all get ample playing time for the big game.

Pi Kapp Steeler
01-26-2009, 02:14 PM
I think Hines is OK. The man could play with out his hands and still catch 3 TDs in that game! :tt03:

01-26-2009, 02:38 PM
He makes it sound like Ward sprained his MCL on purpose. Not at all surprising, considering the bitter fat slob of a source.

Fire Haley
01-26-2009, 03:35 PM
Steelers | Ward day-to-day
Mon, 26 Jan 2009 13:17:26 -0800

NFL.com reports Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said WR Hines Ward (knee) is considered day-to-day and will not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 26, because he has not worked on Wednesdays for the last several weeks.

01-26-2009, 03:38 PM
Ben is a drama queen. Hines is a drama queen.

It's amazing this team wins with so much drama!


01-26-2009, 03:39 PM
My prediction is Limas Sweed has a huge day, he catches the two sure TDs he dropped in the 2 previous playoff games and catches the Cards completely off guard.

Remember, you heard it here first.:tt02:

01-26-2009, 04:17 PM
I hate Madden, that douchebag tub o' lard.

Hines Ward would be playing in XLIII if you cut his damn leg off.

01-26-2009, 06:11 PM
Madden is still alive?

01-27-2009, 04:07 AM
I have a hard time not believing this guy hasn't been ran out of Pittsburgh. . .

Then I read some threads around here. Take out Wards name and put in Ben. . . I would have sworn it was written by some of our post-ers

Steelers & I
01-27-2009, 04:39 AM
I'm actually tired of hearing about this issue. It's a NON ISSUE if you ask me. Hines Ward is going to play and Hines Ward is going to do what Hines Ward always does,



01-27-2009, 05:16 AM
We all know Hines is tougher than woodpecker lips. He'll be out there making plays on Sunday.

01-27-2009, 05:49 AM
I have a hard time not believing this guy hasn't been ran out of Pittsburgh. . .

..... Jabba-the-Yap WOULDA been run outta-town, but the when the Pennsylvania Railroad realigned it's tracks, authorities realized that load wouldn't safely pass through Penn Station.....


01-27-2009, 06:29 AM
If Ward doesnt play..... I really hope Sweed takes this opportunity and becomes a super star.....