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Old 07-30-2005, 02:48 AM   #43
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Default Ward threatens to sit out season

Ward threatens to sit out season without contract extension
'I'm not asking to break the bank ... I just want compensated'
Friday, July 29, 2005

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hines Ward, the Steelers' four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, threw one of his famous downfield blocks on his own team yesterday when he proclaimed he will not report to training camp -- or show up at any point this season -- until he receives a contact extension.

Lake Fong, Post-Gazette
Hines Ward talks to reporters before an autograph session yesterday at the Waterfront complex in Homestead.
Click photo for larger image.

Related coverage
Bob Smizik: Steelers, Ward need each other
Hines Ward's 2004 Salary Base Salary 1,668,750
Signing Bonus 0
Other Bonus 3,200
Total Salary $1,671,950
Source: USA Today


Ward, who has one year left on a contract he signed in 2001, said he's prepared to sit out the entire season if there's no new contract.

"I just want my fair market value, that's all I can ask for," Ward said yesterday afternoon before an autograph appearance at the Sprint PCS Store at the Waterfront complex in Homestead. "I'm not asking to break the bank or anything. I just want compensated."

He then made comments to the media on hand that were directed to the Steelers and referred to president Art Rooney's 2004 promise to make him a priority in contract discussions this year.

"Last year, you told me to wait, which is understandable; I had two years left on my deal and I went about it. I reported to everything you wanted me to do; I've done everything you asked me to do.

"You said you want to make me first priority, now here it is a couple days from training camp and we're still negotiating. But I think everything will work out; there's nothing personal, it's a business."

Ward will remain in town at least for the next few days in case a contract agreement is reached. The four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, however, acknowledged there has been little progress and the two sides have barely talked over the past month.

"They haven't even talked to my agent but once, as of Monday," Ward said. "They made an initial offer, my agent countered it. And that was it, there was no more negotiating after that."

A Steelers spokesman said no one from the team would comment on what Ward said.

The Post-Gazette reported yesterday the Steelers' offer would make Ward the highest-paid player in their history. Ward said his main aim is to receive as much guaranteed money as he can because in the NFL, players can be released with years left on their contract and the club is not obligated to pay any of it.

The Steelers' offer includes more than $8 million in a signing bonus and might be closer to $9 million. Many receivers over the past five years have received signing bonuses of more than $10 million, but many washed out after signing those contracts. Most notable among the failures was Joey Galloway, who received a $12.5 million signing bonus from the Cowboys in 2000, even though he never made a Pro Bowl. Ward might have in mind the kind of deal that Muhsin Muhammad received this year from the Chicago Bears. Muhammad, 32, received a $12 million bonus.

Ward has one year at $1,668,750 remaining on his deal. If he holds out, the Steelers could play tough and demand he repay them $500,000, the one-year prorated portion of his signing bonus, and fine him $6,000 daily.

Ward said if there is no contract extension, "I won't be there" at training camp in Latrobe. He said he will stay out "as long as it takes."

During a protracted holdout, Ward would lose 1/17th of his salary for each week of the regular season he boycotts. After Oct. 18, he would not be permitted to return to the team this season and would lose the credited year (and not become a free agent) unless the Steelers petition the league for his reinstatement. No player can end his holdout over the final 30 days of the season, and he would lose that credited year.

"In the NFL, you only have a short amount of time to maximize the most money you can get," said Ward, 29. "This is the business part of it. Before, I just went out and played; now I'm getting older. Once you hit 30, they think you're too old to play or whatever. It's maximizing the most money you can get."

Ward said he's in the best shape of his life and, at 204 pounds, the lightest he has weighed in a long time.

He said he's eager to reach camp and catch passes from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and that he does not want to hold out.

"I don't want to see it come to that. I love playing football, I love putting on the black and gold, but what's fair is fair, and that's all I can really ask for."

Ward made the past four Pro Bowls, the most by any Steelers receiver, and broke team receiving records during that time. Three times, he surpassed the Steelers' previous record of 85 receptions in a season with a high of 112 in 2002. His 505 career receptions are second only to John Stallworth's 537 in club history.

"People say, abide by your contract, but, in football, nobody abides by their contract," Ward said. "If you're not producing, they cut you or they release you. But if you have been producing, which I have for the last four years, I feel like I want to get compensated for it."

Asked where he felt his contract deserved to be among the NFL's receivers, Ward said he wasn't sure.

"Whatever -- the most I can get, I guess. People always compare, 'Well, he doesn't deserve what Marvin Harrison gets,' but I'm not trying to be Marvin. I'm not in that type of offense. You put one of those guys in our type of offense, their numbers are going to drop tremendously to what they're accustomed to."

Ward said there's nothing personal, even if he boycotts training camp, and he wants to remain a Steeler.

"It's sad to see for it to come to this, but the NFL is part business as well as going out there and performing on the field."

2004 Top NFL WR Salaries
Player Marvin Harrison Terrell Owens Darrell Jackson Amani Toomer Steve Smith Larry Fitzgerald Justin McCareins Chris Chambers Randy Moss


Base Salary 4,559,765 660,000 1,000,000 660,000 743,529 1,050,000 1,000,000 500,000 5,750,000


Signing Bonus 6,000,000 2,300,000 8,000,000 8,000,000 7,256,471 7,500,000 6,000,000 5,500,000 0


Other Bonus 400 6,200,700 400 4,100 600,000 0 0 500,000 323,204


Total Salary $10,560,165 $9,160,700 $9,000,400 $8,664,100 $8,600,000 $8,550,000 $7,000,000 6,500,000 $6,073,204


(Ed Bouchette can be reached at or 412-263-3878.)
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