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Old 07-29-2005, 12:13 AM   #31
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

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."

The bottom of the page has the 2004 Top WR's salaries. Click the link to see them.

Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05210/545641.stm
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:19 AM   #32
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

Quote:
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.
UGH, I cringe every time I read that...
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:21 AM   #33
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

Same here Blitz. I think it will work out though. Hines seems to like it here and he has said he wants to retire here. I trust that to be true.
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:30 AM   #34
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

I have to stick w/ what he's stood for his whole career and bank on what he said he's all about. He wants to be a Steeler, so we have to hope he and the FO will come around. There's nothing wrong w/ playing alittle hardball. You cant just give in without some give and take, and lets face it. Hines doesnt need 4 weeks of preseason and a month long training camp to get ready to play in sept. so if he holds out a few weeks even, its not going to that big of a hinderance to him.. which Im sure is playing in his mind as well.
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:36 AM   #35
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

Very good post. I agree. I too have to look at the Hines we have known over the years. The team player who bleeds black and gold. I am confident this will get done although the waiting is getting a bit stressful.
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:54 AM   #36
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

I know there is no way Im falling asleep anytime fast tonite! :(
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:59 AM   #37
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

lol I hear you on that one.
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Old 07-29-2005, 01:00 AM   #38
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

Im going to bed tonite w/ the thought that this is all a bad dream and I will wake up and he will have signed !!
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Old 07-29-2005, 01:25 AM   #39
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

Smizik: Steelers, Ward need each other
Friday, July 29, 2005
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers are a football team but, as Hines Ward is learning, they play hardball, too.

There might not be a more formidable team in professional sports negotiations than the Steelers. That doesn't mean they're cheap. They're not. They spend as much as most teams, more than some. But unlike so many teams that will pay whatever it takes, the Steelers pay whatever they think is fair. No more.

Once they draw a financial line, they don't often cross it.

Which might not bode well for the 2005 season.

Ward, one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL and highly integral to the team's offensive success, is entering the final year of his contract. He wants an extension that will pay him what he considers the going rate for players of his caliber.

If he doesn't get it, he said he won't report to training camp Sunday. He also suggested that he would sit out the 2005 season if a contract to his liking is not forthcoming.

Without Ward, the Steelers would be a pale imitation of the team that was 15-1 in 2004 and advanced to the AFC title game. He is their best receiver and a peerless blocker whose zest for physical play not only enhances the running game but helps to make him the team's most popular player and the one who most embodies the Steelers' way.

His absence would be felt even more profoundly since the Steelers already have lost their other starting wide receiver, Plaxico Burress, who signed in the offseason with the New York Giants.

If Ward does not play this season, it would leave second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger without his go-to guy and with a severely depleted receiving corps.

Asked if he would report to camp without a contract, Ward said, "I will not be there."

Asked if he would sit out the entire season, Ward said, "If that's what it has to come down to."

He quickly added he didn't think it would go that far.

It all depends on how hard Ward wants to play his hand. The Steelers might bend in these negotiations, but they won't break.

Ward was particularly annoyed that so little had been done in the way of negotiations to this point. He pushed last summer for a new contract and considered not reporting to camp. He backed off that stance before acting on it and had another brilliant year and played in his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl.

At the time, the Steelers said signing Ward to a contract extension would be a "priority." The fact they signed first-round draft choice Heath Miller, who received a $5 million signing bonus, before Ward makes that priority somewhat suspect.

Fans have rallied to the support of Ward, whose all-out style of play, ever-present smile and willingness to speak candidly on a variety of subjects makes him one of the most popular figures in recent Pittsburgh sports history.

Rest of the article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05210/545640.stm
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Old 07-29-2005, 01:54 AM   #40
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Default Re: WR Ward turns down Steelers' offer

I think, unless he has been grossly mis-represented by his agent that Hines Ward does not bleed black and gold. I believe the same applies to our hold out, Richard Seymour - sure...when and if he signs he will say "there was no way I was gonna go anywhere but here. Pittsburgh/New England/Philadelphia (*delete as applicable) is my home and I hope to retire here"

Players who genuinely hold great value to commiting loyally to the team that selected them are a very rare breed indeed - players such as Tom Brady.
They are greatly outnumbered by players such as Damien Woody, Richard Seymour, and Hines Ward who are not exactly mercenary - but they certainly dont undervalue their own contribution to a teams success.....

This is not to say you wont sign Hines...for a start I cant think where he would go this year? (Any thoughts Pitts fans?)
But the simple fact is actions speak louder than words and all the 'this is the greatest city in the world' talk can be about as heartfelt as any given rock group saying the same thing in EVERY city they tour.

regards

NM
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