With the 66th pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Hines Ward, wide receiver from the University of Georgia. The Rooney’s took a chance on Ward in the third round of the draft, not knowing what to expect. Little did they know that 14 years later, Ward would be at the top of the list in all-time Steeler players and knocking on the door of the Hall of Fame.
Earlier today, the veteran wide receiver announced his retirement from the game of football. Ward has accomplished many accolades throughout his career. Ward holds the franchise record with 1,000 receptions and 12, 083 receiving yards, passing the likes of all-time legends Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. He also is at the top of the list in touchdowns by a Steeler with 85. Ward made the trip to Hawaii four times in his career as a Pro Bowler, as well as being selected to the second team All-Pro three times.
One of Ward’s most memorable moments occurred in Super Bowl XL when he propelled the Steelers to their fifth Super Bowl victory in franchise history over the Seattle Seahawks. Ward had five receptions for 123 yards, including the only touchdown catch of the game for Steelers. His efforts helped him win the MVP award. Ward went back to the Super Bowl two more times in his career, winning it in 2009 against the Arizona Cardinals and faced defeat in last year to the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Ward was a recipient of another touchdown catch in the loss to the Packers.
Among the all-time ranks in the NFL, Ward finished eighth in all-time receptions, 13th in touchdowns and 18th receiving yards.
Out of all those records, there is one that is not mentioned that stands above the rest. He did it all for one team. Ward has stayed loyal to the Steeler’s organization all the way up until the final play of his career. Ward continued to stay loyal during the current offseason, as he was willing to take a pay cut in order to maintain a member of the team. With the situation the Steelers were facing with being up against the salary cap and in dire need of signing other free agents, they couldn’t afford to play around with the money. The Steelers cut him loose at the end of last month, giving him some time to think. After Ward explored the options of signing with another team, he decided it was in his best interest to retire with his heart in one city.
The fact that Ward has played his entire career in Pittsburgh speaks volumes to what kind of person he is. So many times you say veteran players who are locks for the Hall of Fame going to another team. We are witnessing this event occur as we speak. Just today, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos after spending his whole career in Indianapolis.
So is Ward a Hall of Famer? No question about it. For years to come when you think of Steeler wide receivers you will think of Swann, Stallworth, and now you can add the name Ward. Besides from the records, Ward has proven what it is like to be a true Steeler. Even though Ward’s heart will always be in Pittsburgh, his new home will be in Canton.
Photo published by daylife.com
About the Author
Written by Drew Karpen
I am a graduate from Clarion University. I am currently the beat reporter for WVU football at ovathletics.com. I work part time as a stringer at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and as a producer at WJPA radio station. I also have my weekly column on ovathletics.com. I am from Pittsburgh and my favorite team is the Pirates.