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Old 11-30-2009, 07:01 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Bires: The Blind Side

Bires: The Blind Side
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By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
Monday November 30, 2009 12:41 AM

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon reacts after throwing an incomplete pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

BALTIMORE —When Hines Ward speaks, people listen. And when the self-proclaimed leader of Steelers’ wideouts spoke Sunday night on national TV, he put his foot in his mouth and sounded like an idiot. Maybe you heard Ward in a pre-game interview with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas. If you didn’t, you’re sure to hear about it. Ward basically ripped into Ben Roethlisberger for missing the AFC North showdown against the Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger, of course, sat out because he has not fully recovered from a concussion.

“This game is almost like a playoff game,” Ward told Costas. “It’s almost a must win. So, I can see some players or some teammates kind of questioning like, ‘Well, it’s just a concussion.’”

It’s mind-boggling that Ward could be so insensitive and so selfish for criticizing and questioning one of the Steelers’ toughest and most courageous players.

Thanks to a gutsy performance by Dennis Dixon — who threw for a touchdown and ran for a score in his first start — the Steelers played a terrific game against the Ravens before bowing 20-17 in overtime.

But when the Steelers report to team headquarters today, Ward has some explaining to do.

Ward also should offer an apology to Roethlisberger.

Beside his “it’s just a concussion” remark, Ward had more to say.

“I’ve played with concussions before. I would go out there and play,” he said. “So, it’s almost like a 50-50 toss-up in the locker room. You know, ‘Should he play? Shouldn’t he play?’ It’s really hard to say.”

What a foolish thing to say.

First, there is no proof that Ward ever played with a concussion.

Secondly, Roethlisberger is every bit the competitor Ward is. Ward may be a warrior. But so too is Roethlisberger,

Roethlisberger wanted to play against the Ravens. Coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger begged to play. But Tomlin, on the advice of team physicians, refused.

Re-occurring headaches prevented Rothlisberger from playing. Forcing Roethlisberger to watch was the right call.

Hines, maybe you forget, but Roethlisberger was nearly knocked out cold last week in Kansas City when he was kneed in the head by a linebacker. That’s the fourth time he’s suffered a concussion in the last four years.

And again, Hines, Roethlisberger wanted to play. But team physicians wisely and correctly would not allow it.

“Trust me, the players, they want to go out there because these games, you don’t get back,” Ward said later in his sit-down with Costas.

“You’re never going to get this Baltimore-Pittsburgh game back.”

No, Hines. You’re wrong.

The Steelers play the Ravens in four weeks.

And because he didn’t play Sunday night and do further damage to his head, Roethlisberger figures to be just fine when these two rivals meet again.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com
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