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Old 08-05-2005, 03:32 PM   #92
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer - Threatens to sit out entire season

Ward's stand: A man processing his e-ticket recently at an Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport kiosk looked familiar.

A low-slung sun hat, sunglasses and brown T-shirt emblazoned with Good Times, the 1970s sitcom featuring Jimmy Walker, couldn't camouflage one of the elite receivers.

"That's me," Hines Ward says of the T-shirt. "Good Times. I'm always positive."

But his smile couldn't hide wounded pride when it came to discussing the deal he says was promised but has yet been proffered by the Steelers. Without one, he vows the Steelers will be playing this season without arguably their most valuable and versatile offensive weapon.

Even as he prepared to hold out, Ward headed to Pittsburgh in case his agent called to say a new deal had been struck.

But Ward later turned down an offer including nearly $9 million guaranteed, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ward is seeking guaranteed money similar to the $17 million guaranteed Marvin Harrison on last year's seven-year, $66 million extension.

"I want $16-$18 million guaranteed over the next three years," says Ward. "I was told in a meeting at the end of the year by (coach) Bill Cowher and (director of football operations) Kevin Colbert that I would receive the highest signing bonus ever (by a receiver)."

"I love football and I don't want to miss practices with my teammates. But the Steelers don't value receivers. And I'm (ticked) off."

Here's what's wrong with this picture: The Steelers could afford to let Plaxico Burress go since he didn't play or block with Ward's fearless tenacity.

The Giants gave Burress $8 million in guaranteed money, only slightly less than the Steelers offered Ward, 30.

The Steelers need to step up or else they risk taking a big step back in the
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