PDA

View Full Version : Bruising blocker Ward is an endangered species


mesaSteeler
08-12-2009, 07:37 PM
Bruising blocker Ward is an endangered species
Aug. 12, 2009
By Mike Freeman
CBSSports.com National Columnist
http://www.cbssports.com/print/columns/story/12056877

LATROBE, Pa. -- It was a short inside route, one Hines Ward has run probably hundreds of times, and the result is normally just as predictable. It ends in a catch. Only this time, it ended with a drop.

Mark the moment: August of 2009, Anno Domini ... Ward dropped an easy pass in practice. Not unheard of but rare, like Steelers and Browns fans living together. :rofl:

When the pass skipped off Ward's hands, there was an audible gasp from several hundred fans watching in the stands. Ward smiled; Ward always smiles. Then Ward pumped out 10 pushups as self-punishment and smiled some more.

No, Ward isn't perfect, but he's darn close.

Ward has always engendered a highly visceral response from fans and the media. To his backers, he's a blue-collar hero who has been the backbone of two Super Bowl teams. To his critics, he's a punk whose cheap-shot tactics are so plus-sized, teams have allegedly put bounties on his head.

To me? It's much more the former than the latter. One day in the future, after Ward has retired and entered the Hall of Fame as arguably the best receiver in Steelers history, he'll be missed. He'll still be hated by some, but he'll be missed, because there won't be many more football players like Ward ever again.

In the modern NFL there are few receivers who enjoy the thrill of a spleen-numbing block as much as they do a touchdown catch. Many receivers today despise blocking. They're too pretty to do it. Ward is brutish elegance.

"Blocking is fun," Ward said while walking off the field after a recent practice. Then he flashed that Ward smile.

Blocking is a dirty and nasty business. What was routine in the old-school NFL -- Hall of Fame runner Jim Brown once said that the worst blocking receiver in his day would be among the best today -- is now only done well by a handful of wide receivers. Ward might be the best blocking receiver in history.

Ward's blocking makes him loved by the Steelers and their fans but despised by almost everyone else. Some NFL players believe Ward attacks defenders when they don't see him and can't fully defend themselves.

This criticism reached a high point after Ward's vicious block on Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers in 2008. Ward hit Rivers so hard it broke Rivers' jaw. The league next instituted a new set of rules preventing blindside blocks around a player's head. The rule has been nicknamed "the Hines Ward rule."

Ward would only say: "The new rule is going to lead to guys getting hurt."

His reasoning makes sense. If blockers fear getting a penalty for hitting high (even if the block is blindsided) they're now going to aim lower. Lower hits could mean more knee and leg injuries.

How will Ward adapt to the change in rules named after him is an interesting question. Will this temper his notorious and delicious blocking aggression?

Don't count on it.

What is certain is that when Ward leaves the game he'll be the team's leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

Dropped passes: a few, sure.

Monster blocks: a bazillion.

Steel-Bryan
08-13-2009, 02:57 AM
Nice read

Galax Steeler
08-13-2009, 06:53 AM
I hate to see Ward go when it is time but I loved watching him block. I don't think they will never be another receiver block the way Hines does. Nice read Mesa.

The Lakelander
08-13-2009, 08:24 AM
Limas!

I'm betting Limas throws a few more crunchers in 2009!

fansince'76
08-13-2009, 09:06 AM
Bruising blocker Ward is an endangered species

Especially considering that asshat Goodell's attempts to legislate hitting out of the game.

Nadroj 20
08-13-2009, 09:48 AM
Limas!

I'm betting Limas throws a few more crunchers in 2009!

YES maybe i few more years playing with ward can make him a replica of Hines!! :tt02::tt02: wouldnt mind that at all

Fire Haley
08-13-2009, 11:24 AM
Especially considering that asshat Goodell's attempts to legislate hitting out of the game.

That too. But it's the "head hits" they want to eliminate.

So now they'll block low, and take them out at the knees, resulting in even more injuries.

RoethlisBURGHer
08-13-2009, 11:33 AM
That too. But it's the "head hits" they want to eliminate.

So now they'll block low, and take them out at the knees, resulting in even more injuries.

Yes, which will the warrant a new rule that says no hitting at the legs.

Which will warrant a new rule after a player or two gets a busted spleen/liver/collapsed lung from a block to the stomach or chest.

Eventually, this will be the National Flag Football League.

steelreserve
08-13-2009, 11:55 AM
That too. But it's the "head hits" they want to eliminate.

So now they'll block low, and take them out at the knees, resulting in even more injuries.

No, they're already working on that with the Tom Brady rule.

I'm pretty sure that instead of blocking, they're going to phase in a five-Mississippi system, and seven Mississippis on third down.

Edman
08-13-2009, 11:56 AM
It's ridiculous to remove injuries from a contact sport. Football is a rough sport. People are going to get hurt. When you step out on that field, you run the risk of getting hurt. So Ward can't block high, okay, suppose he goes low and take out someone's knees and puts them out for the season or his career. We'll have more whining.

Der Fuhrer Goodell is illogical, incompetant, and just plain lousy as a commish.

fansince'76
08-13-2009, 12:07 PM
So Ward can't block high, okay, suppose he goes low and take out someone's knees and puts them out for the season or his career. We'll have more whining.

And yet another bounty on his head will be issued and bragged about in the media which dickhead won't do shit about besides legislate yet another rule to further punish Hines for his style of play and award the Pats* a few more first rounders. :coffee:

alittlejazzbird
08-14-2009, 08:02 PM
Eventually, this will be the National Flag Football League.

As Troy so perfectly put it, a pansy game.

Texasteel
08-14-2009, 08:09 PM
And yet another bounty on his head will be issued and bragged about in the media which dickhead won't do shit about besides legislate yet another rule to further punish Hines for his style of play and award the Pats* a few more first rounders. :coffee:

1. Goodell is an idiot.
2. Goodell was raised by idiots.
3. Goodell surrounds himself with idiots
4. Goodell is still an idiot.

7SteelGal43
08-14-2009, 08:34 PM
I would love to see Hines take Sweed under his wing. We've already seen what Sweed can do, Hines needs to help hone that skill.

We all know Hines can catch the ball, take a hit, and bounce right back up and flash that infuriatingly bright grin at a safety that just tackled him. But watching him put a "spleen-numbing hit" on someone...well, that just sets Hines apart :wink02: and shows us there's more than one way for a WR to make the hilite reel.