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mesaSteeler
09-09-2009, 07:49 PM
Hines Ward not worried about being labeled 'dirty player'

By Walter Villa

For the AJC
8:19 p.m. Wednesday, September 9, 2009

PITTSBURGH — Standing in front of his locker at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training facility, Hines Ward certainly doesn’t look or act like one of the toughest players in the NFL.

At 6 feet and 205 pounds, the former Forest Park High and University of Georgia star doesn’t appear to be big enough to knock out linebackers and defensive linemen.

And the way he thoughtfully and calmly answers each question the media throws his way, Ward would more easily pass for a college professor than an NFL hit man.

But when he steps on the field — as he will Thursday when the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers open the NFL’s 2009 season at home against the Tennessee Titans — Ward is on the minds of every defensive player.

“When he is on the field, the 11 guys on the other side have their heads on a swivel,” ESPN’s Merril Hoge said. “He even decleated [345-pound Ravens defensive tackle] Haloti Ngata.”

When asked if Ward is the best-blocking wide receiver in the game today, Hoge was emphatic.

“There’s nobody even close — he’s 1 and 1A,” Hoge said. “You can argue that he blocks better than most running backs and fullbacks. Ward is one of the best hitters in the league — period. He never shies away from anyone. He’ll block a guy head-on, sideways, doesn’t matter. The Cardinals’ Anquan Boldin is a physical blocker, but he is not close to being able to strike like Ward.

“What Ward has is a gift. He has the desire to block, first and foremost. But he also has nastiness, leverage, technique. His timing is unique. He has a stunning jab — a quick strike. When he blocks, he goes up and through you.”

That was certainly the case last season, when Ward blocked 6-2, 240-pound linebacker Keith Rivers of the Bengals. The shot sent Rivers to the hospital with a broken jaw.

“They call me ‘dirty player’ or whatever,” Ward said when asked about his blocking skills. “I really don’t care what people call me. My teammates know what I do.”

Ward was not penalized by the refs and was not fined by the league on what was deemed a clean play. But after the season, the NFL created the “Ward Rule,” which makes illegal a blindside block if it comes from the blockers’ helmet, shoulder or forearm and lands to the neck or head of the defender.

Impact player? Ward is all of that — from the way he hits to the way his play has impacted the game.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, a former star defensive back who has been in the NFL for 50 years as a player or coach, rated Ward’s blocking skills “right at the top.”

But LeBeau also made sure to point out that the Steelers receiver is an all-around player.

“He’s got the whole package,” LeBeau said. “He’s a great route-runner. He’s a tremendous catcher of the ball. The more important the catch, the more likely he is to make it.

“I’ve been with him for 10 years, and I just don’t see him drop the ball hardly at all — practice or whatever. Blocking is just another thing he excels at.

“Blocking is just tackling without being able to use your arms. I’ve always told Hines that I’d take him as a safety when he gets done playing receiver. I’m sure he’d be a very good one.”

LeBeau is probably correct. But right now, Ward is having too much fun playing receiver. At age 33, he is a four-time Pro Bowl receiver and a two-time Super Bowl champion. He also earned the MVP trophy in Super Bowl XL and is the Steelers’ leader in career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Perhaps what makes Ward so good is his toughness. Despite finishing his college career second to Herschel Walker on Georgia’s all-purpose-yards chart, Ward was just a third-round pick of the Steelers in 1998, a “snub” he still uses as motivation.

“Blocking was how I had to make a name for myself,” he said. “I had to make my presence known on the field, and it wasn’t going to be from catching 10 balls a game.

“When I got the opportunity to knock somebody out, I took advantage. Over time, people started to notice. ‘Oh man, this guy is really knocking heads off.’ ”

Is Ward the best blocking receiver?

“I don’t know,” he said. “There are other guys around the league who are fierce. Boldin is one of them. I watch some of his film. He attacks defensive guys kind of the way I do.

“I will say this: When you play against me, it’s all-out war for four quarters.”
:applaudit::tt::tt03::applaudit::tt::tt03::applaud it::tt::tt03:

steelpride12
09-09-2009, 07:51 PM
Hines Ward in no way is a dirty player, the league has just gone soft and any hard hit is now considered illegal(Goodell).
I love his mindset of this all that no matter what for 60 minutes he is gonna go out there and knock people around and do what it takes to win games!
Best blocking receiver in the game, Hands down!

RoethlisBURGHer
09-09-2009, 09:10 PM
Of course defensive player love to call Hines Ward a dirty player.

They don't like getting hit. They don't like getting hit blindside. But ask any defensive player if they would hit an offensive player blindside, especially a quarterback. If he says no, he's a damn liar.

7SteelGal43
09-09-2009, 09:17 PM
Hines Ward is the man !!!! :tt03:

It's football. It's a physical game. Get over it. If ya can't handle the kinda hit Ward can put on ya, lace up your ballerina slippers and kindly exit the stadium.

1st&Goal
09-09-2009, 09:27 PM
Of course defensive player love to call Hines Ward a dirty player.

They don't like getting hit. They don't like getting hit blindside. But ask any defensive player if they would hit an offensive player blindside, especially a quarterback. If he says no, he's a damn liar.

Excellent statement.

devilsdancefloor
09-09-2009, 09:28 PM
Ward is awesome and he does it ALL with a smile on his face.

RoethlisBURGHer
09-09-2009, 09:44 PM
Ward is awesome and he does it ALL with a smile on his face.

:tt03: My dad HATES that smile. Poor Browns fan, never seen a receiver on his team block like that before. :laughing:

T Bradshaw
09-09-2009, 09:46 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbLNFiQSTyE

Stang909
09-09-2009, 09:55 PM
I can't wait to watch Hines Ward blow up somebody on the Titans defense.