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Old 09-05-2005, 01:26 AM   #9
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Default Ward, Steelers putting finishing touches on contract extension

Steelers Pro Bowl wideout Hines Ward said Sunday his contract extension is all but complete, save a few details.

"It's more logistics now - it's just a matter of how it's broken down," he said. "They're close."

Ward added that he planned to sit down with his agent Eugene Parker for dinner last night in Pittsburgh to work out particulars such as incentives.

Although the deal was not yet done as of yesterday evening, an announcement could come as early as today.


Mindful that the Steelers traditionally cease negotiations once the regular season begins - they have made exceptions in the past when believing a deal is imminent - Ward pushed to get the deal done and said he was willing to make concessions in order to do so.

The Steelers open the regular season this Sunday at Heinz Field against Tennessee.

"I said, 'Hey, OK, let's get this done," Ward said.

The Steelers negotiated with Parker late into the night Friday and extensively Saturday and yesterday.

Ward, 29, had originally planned to go home to Atlanta for the Labor Day weekend, following the team's final preseason game at Carolina last Thursday.

"I wanted to weigh the pros and cons of everything," he said.

But he had a change of heart, stayed in Pittsburgh and pushed to get the new contract hammered out. He attended the Pitt-Notre Dame game with Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger and several other teammates Saturday night at Heinz Field.

"Just being here and getting all the support from the fans gave me a strong feeling," Ward said. "I told my agent, 'Hey, let's settle this (deal).'"

Ward said he had a moment of clarity while sitting in a suite at the North Shore stadium Saturday night.

"It's a special atmosphere, and I had a different viewpoint of Heinz Field for that game," he said. "I thought, 'For me, this is where I want to play for the rest of my career.'"

Prior to training camp, the Steelers offered Ward the highest signing bonus in franchise history. He was dissatisfied, however, with the guaranteed money over the length of the deal and turned it down. He counter-offered, but the Steelers turned him down.
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