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Old 07-31-2005, 11:54 PM   #1
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Default Teammates support Ward....

LATROBE, Pa. -- Hines Ward became the Pittsburgh Steelers' first major holdout in 12 years Sunday, keeping his promise not to report to training camp without a contract extension that would make him one of the NFL's top-paid wide receivers.

Once Ward missed the 6 p.m. ET reporting deadline, Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said negotiations were over until Ward shows up -- something the four-time Pro Bowl receiver has insisted that he won't do without a new deal.

Ward, with one year remaining on a contract worth $1.66 million this season, apparently has two choices: End his holdout and continue talks, as Steelers Pro Bowl running back Barry Foster did in 1993, or sit out the season, as three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Mike Merriweather did in 1988.

Several teammates made impassioned pleas for the team to re-sign Ward, with linebacker Joey Porter saying the Steelers "can't win without him." And Colbert himself seemed uncomfortable talking about a missing player he often has cited for his unselfishness and team-first attitude.

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