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Old 05-03-2009, 04:54 AM   #1
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Default Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler
May 03, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hines Ward already put himself among the select Steelers as a Super Bowl MVP, the only four-time Pro Bowl receiver and the holder of most of the team records for his position.

His new goal, and one he believes he will accomplish because of his new contract, is to retire with the Steelers. That has become a rare feat in the free agency era that began in 1993.

If Ward, who is 33 and under contract for the next five seasons, ends his playing days with the Steelers, he will become only the third Pro Bowl player in the past 16 years to wear only their uniform.

The others were center Dermontti Dawson and nose tackle Joel Steed.

Every other Steelers Pro Bowl player whose career included all or part of the free agency era once was the property of another NFL team, either before he came to the Steelers or after he left them.

The list includes 23 Pro Bowl players, not counting some of those still active. They range from newly elected Hall of Famer Rod Woodson to others on their 75th anniversary team such as Jerome Bettis, Greg Lloyd, Tunch Ilkin, Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, Carnell Lake and Gary Anderson. It includes team record-holders such as Barry Foster (single-season rushing) and Jason Gildon (career sacks), and NFL all-decade selections such as Levon Kirkland.

Among them are Pro Bowl quarterbacks Neil O'Donnell and Kordell Stewart.

Foster came the closest to not pulling on another uniform because, technically, he never played for another team. But he was in Carolina's training camp before being cut and signed another contract with Cincinnati before retiring a few days later.

"It's a big honor for me to start my career here and evidently end my career here," Ward said at the weekend's minicamp. "I couldn't be happier."

Ward needs 220 yards to become the first Steelers receiver to reach 10,000. He also owns the team record with 800 receptions. He has the top three individual receiving seasons in team history, led by his 112 catches in 2002. His 72 career touchdown receptions are most in club history.

What's left? Retire as a Steelers player, which has become one of the toughest accomplishments in the free agency era. It was much more common for it to happen before 1993. The team's fourth Super Bowl victory was followed the next few years by a string of retirements for those Hall of Famers who played for only the Steelers -- Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Lynn Swann, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert and John Stallworth. But even Franco Harris and Mike Webster did not retire as Steelers.

It was strange to see Harris' great career end in a Seattle Seahawks uniform or that of Webster's concluding in Kansas City Chiefs red.

Ward said he does not want that to happen to him.

"I couldn't even see myself in another uniform but a Steeler uniform," he said. "I'm happy to be here, I'm glad the contract situation got solved and hopefully we can go out and sign other guys and let their careers end here as well."

While only two Pro Bowl players spent their entire careers with the Steelers since 1993, there are a handful of candidates to do so on the current team. The strongest possibilities of the Pro Bowlers are Ward, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Smith. Others include Willie Parker, Troy Polamalu and Casey Hampton. Among those who have not made a Pro Bowl but have been good players and could stay are Heath Miller, Ike Taylor, Deshea Townsend, who will turn 34 in September, and Brett Keisel. Linebacker James Harrison, who played in NFL Europe, once was Baltimore's property although he never played for the Ravens.

Not only is it rare for an individual to be a Steelers player for life in this era, Ward's career did not begin as if he would reach that status. A third-round draft pick in 1998, he had to watch the Steelers draft receivers in the first round in 1999 and 2000 and then suffer the indignity of losing his starting job to rookie Plaxico Burress before the first training camp practice.

"Especially for how my career started, this is a huge accomplishment," he said of his enduring play with the team. "For me, I really don't want to put on another uniform. That was never my intention, never my goal. To assure I will always wear a black and gold uniform, I'm relieved.

"When I leave this game, I want to be one of those guys people say, 'He was a hell of a Steeler.' I know my legacy will be a Steeler for life. The two match. It goes together."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09123/967334-66.stm
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Old 05-03-2009, 05:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

In my humble opinion, Hines Ward has been the best reciever in football for a few years now, It has been an honor to watch him compete. /salute
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Old 05-03-2009, 07:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

I see Ward retiring as a Steeler that is what he wants. He has nothing left to prove over 800 receptions and only 220 yards from 10000 he will get that. Hats off to Ward he has been a warrior.
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

Look up "Steelers" in the dictionary. It would perfectly describe Hines Ward. His heart beats black and gold and it has been both a pleasure and a privilege to watch him play for the Steelers.

He belongs in the long list of Steelers legends. At the same time, he belongs in a class all his own. I don't think Pittsburgh has ever seen someone quite like Hines, nor will we ever again. I love how he mentors the young guys so a little bit of his legend will continue on even after he is gone. Yep, he's quite a guy, our Hines!
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 05-03-2009, 09:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

The vibe of this thread sounds like he's already gone! hehe. We still get some years out of him.
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Old 05-03-2009, 09:11 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

Quote:
Originally Posted by stillers4me View Post
Look up "Steelers" in the dictionary. It would perfectly describe Hines Ward. His heart beats black and gold and it has been both a pleasure and a privilege to watch him play for the Steelers.

He belongs in the long list of Steelers legends. At the same time, he belongs in a class all his own. I don't think Pittsburgh has ever seen someone quite like Hines, nor will we ever again. I love how he mentors the young guys so a little bit of his legend will continue on even after he is gone. Yep, he's quite a guy, our Hines!
& he's half-Asian. Sorry.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

And this, ladies and gents, is why the Rooney's were more than willing to extend Hines' contract and let him retire as a Steeler. James Farrier is also underlooked in the mentor department, and perhaps is one of the reasons, he too, got an extension. This is one reason why the Steelers remain competitive year after year. They just don't make 'em better than this.........

By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com

Linebacker James Farrior is attending his 13th minicamp this weekend, while Hines Ward is at it for the 12th time.

And while they are far removed from their rookie seasons, they understand what this year’s crop is going through and that is why they are doing their part to help the young players out.

“I try to take a look at the young guys, especially the linebackers that we have, during practice,” said Farrior. “I just want to make sure they are doing the little things they need to do to get better. Not so much doing their assignments, but just hustling to the ball and the things we are used to seeing on the field.

“I know their heads are spinning right now. They won’t learn the defense until later in the season if they make the team. As long as they have the other stuff going in the right direction I am okay.”

Ward, who joked that he is like a player-coach right now since he is limited in minicamp as he still recovers from offseason surgery, also is keeping a close eye on the receivers.

“You look at them and you know if they can play or not,” said Ward. “You know there will be mistakes. But our job is to make it easier for them so they can understand and give them the best opportunity to go out and be the players they can be.

“There is great talent, but there is a lot they don’t know about the game itself. I am trying to teach them, see them grow and develop. Hopefully by training camp they can take everything they learn and be positive contributors.”


http://news.steelers.com/article/105254/
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 05-03-2009, 03:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

Couldn't be happier to see him stay a Steeler. Hopefully he can talk some of the other vets that are coming up on contracts to work with the team and hammer out new deals.
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Old 05-03-2009, 04:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

Hines is a true Steeler. He will always have unlimited access to Steeler Nation.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ward's goal: Retire as a Steeler

I think the most underrated reciever in the league. Theres not another reciever I would trade him for including Fitz based on Ward's blocking and leadership value.
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