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Hines Ward Q&A

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Hines Ward officially retired Tuesday, and his former teammates couldn’t resist having a little fun given how prone the Steelers’ wide receiver is to showing his emotions.
So on the most emotional of days for Ward, Aaron Smith won the pool by guessing that one of the greatest players in Steelers history would shed tears two-and-a-half minutes into his news conference.
Ward made it roughly two minutes by my count before choking up –- and he didn’t even make it to a question before getting emotional.
Smith, Jerome Bettis, Brett Keisel and James Harrison were among those that attended Ward’s teary farwell. Also in the packed media room for his goodbye were Steelers president Art Rooney II, general manager Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin and director of administration Omar Khan.
Ward talked about a number of things, including the advice he has given Mike Wallace and his first days with the Steelers. Here are four questions with Ward.

Q: How would you say the game has evolved and do you like the way the game is now?

A: I just love the game period. For me, I was here when we were a run-oriented team. With Tommy Maddox here, I think Plaxico (Burress) and I each had over 1,300 yards, and that was when we were a passing team, but at the end of the day, it is all about winning championships. Regardless of people saying the Steeler Way is running the ball, the Steeler Way to me is winning games and winning championships, by any means necessary, just going out there and getting the job done. So to me, it is kind of crazy because you would envy someone who would be in a passing offense, but at the end of the day, if that isn’t want helped us win a Super Bowl, then it didn’t matter. I think the only thing that matters to us players is that we can say we won Super Bowls, and I think that is why we play this game today. It is not about stats, Brett (Keisel) and James (Harrison), those guys, they don’t want to have to worry about stats. You can go to Pro Bowls all day, but if you never won a Super Bowl, none of that means anything. And that is the reason we play this game and the older we get we know that our window of opportunity is less so you want to make sure all of the younger guys, because when you are young and you have success you think you can just go back there all the time. I looked at a guy like Jerome, played his whole career and finally got the opportunity, and was blessed towards the end of his career, and that meant the world to me, to help him achieve that goal, not only for myself but growing up as a single family, a single child, from a single mother, these were my brothers. So anything I could do on and off the field, I got excited about it. So winning that Super Bowl for him, he and I will have that special bond that no one can take away. When I come back and I see the guys and to the day, that is something we can share because that is something we cherished and shared together. That is what I am going to miss most about those guys, seeing them on a day-to-day basis but whenever I come back in Pittsburgh or if I pick up the phone to call, they will be more than welcome to lend a helping hand, to reach out to me. I think more than anything that is what I will miss as I retire today. Those memories last a lifetime for me and it is something that no one can ever take away from me.

Q: Have you given any counsel to Mike Wallace about his future?

A: One thing I told Mike, you may get a chance to go other places, but there is not a special place like Pittsburgh, and like I said earlier, that is what I am going to miss most, just driving to the game, seeing the families start their tradition off, as a child you are born with a terrible towel, and going out and seeing the tailgating with your family, you grow into that. When you have kids, you have seen your grandparents out there. That is a special bond that this city has. Being that I have played here for 14 years and haven’t played anywhere else, I don’t know how other teams are. So for Mike, I am always going to be his biggest fan, but it is a special place to play here and I have been very blessed to have played all 14 years here, so I just told Mike to look at it in that perspective, I wouldn’t know what it is like playing for any other organization. But I hope he stays and continues the rich tradition of wide outs here. He is an explosive guy and the sky is the limit for Mike. I think Mike can do great things. I hope we sign him back, and he continues here because I would love to see him have success here and carry on that tradition.

Q: Do you remember what it was like to put on the Steelers uniform your first day?

A: I remember it like it was yesterday. When I came into the locker room and I saw Jerome (Bettis) and Kordell (Stewart) and I was almost a big fan, like I would call and say I saw Jerome two lockers down. And getting the chance to look at the uniform, and know what the uniform means, and what that uniform means to this city. It was almost surreal that I always dreamt about making it to the NFL and luckily, Mr. Rooney, they took a chance on me, and I am very grateful of that. To be here and play 14 years, not a lot of guys can say that. So I am very thankful for that, and I do remember the first time putting on that uniform, and not only putting it on, but playing for the guys before me, and continuing that great tradition and playing for this great city that I love.

Q: What was your mindset on being a blocker for this team?

A: I learned early, I really didn’t have any choice when you had Jerome back there, of course you had to give him the ball and for me that was a way of me making a name for myself. Being on a predominantly run-oriented offense, run-oriented organization, I learned at an early age that that was my role. Of course you are envious of guys who catch 100 balls, but you have to think, before I got here, the record was 85 catches, and that is nothing nowadays compared to back then. But that was my role on the team and my first three years, in order to stay in this organization and on this team, I had to play special teams, do the dirty work, but I knew that Jerome and all of the guys that I blocked my tail off for, they appreciate it. I think that the offensive line, seeing a guy that is 200 pounds out there blocking linebackers and defensive ends and stuff, I think it is a trickle affect. The biggest honor that I had is that the defense has a little highlight tape, and at the end I was on their tape. And I have always said that our defense is the reason we have won a lot of championships, they gave us the opportunity to win a lot of championships, so for me to be on their highlight tape, it is a huge honor for me and to see that. I know those guys appreciate it and for me to be on a defensive highlight tape, that meant the world to me.

– Scott Brown

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Comments

  1. Dave crowley says:

    One of the best of all time! We will miss you Hines, thanks for the memories!

  2. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Thanks, Hines. You always will be one of the greatest Steelers of them all.

  3. Imp'n'Arn says:

    Dear Hines:

    Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the victories. You have made the wise decision. Some other career awaits you. It maybe broadcasting, politics, or motivational speaking, or a charity rep, but there’s more for you to do and you have the background and the it-factor to be successful in another profession. Take advantage of it. Don’t rest on your laurels. See you at the HOF.

  4. BamaSteeler says:

    Class Act….Would love to see him back as a WR coach, he knows the position so well and has groomed the three he leaves behind, Wallace, Brown and Sanders if they have just 80% of the success Hines had they will be great…

  5. What class! and dignity. Smart move for him.Maybe you go somewhere else and do nothing for 2 years that’s what people remember.Rather he go out in style.He will be greatly missed by all,Hope to see you Hines on the sidelines soon as a coach,if not God Bless and I wish you even more success to come

  6. Cliff says:

    Hines Ward is a true STEELER! Toughness defines Steeler football and Hines is as tough as they come. I hope he stays with us in some other capacity!

  7. Rudy Masi says:

    Hines you continue to stand tall! Yesterday, you once again showed how you can overcome a tough hit, perhaps the most painful hit you ever experienced and come up smiling! You are the Man, the Bomb, and you Rock! Black & Gold truly runs through your veins! You can be sure myself, my family, and my friends will make the trip from Atlanta, Raleigh, Orlando and St. Pete to see you shine once again in Canton! Well Done!

  8. hammertime says:

    Congradulations Hines Ward, Just glad that you did not pull a Franco Harris, go out and bring shame to all your good work as a Pittsburgh Steelers, now we can treasure you for life as one tof the Greatest Steeler Ever, AND for all those “Fruit Cakes” that Talked Smack about the ROONEYS decision to let Hines go, should be ashame of yourselves, it was the right thing to do!!!! There was one FOOL up here on this site that commented he might go to the RAVENS, Why would he even want to play for them, that would not be a STEELER now would it???? NOW, if we got in a Pinch with ijuries and such, at least he could suit up and PLAY!!!!!! The STeelers Win Again!!!!!!!!

  9. Sweet Williams says:

    Hines,
    You brought your ALL to the game and changed it with your ferocious hits. You weren’t one of the fastest guys but were never afraid to come over the middle for a catch because they feared you! I will NEVER forget your “Raindeer” leap into the end zone in the Superbowl. The win in Dancing with the Stars was a highlight that we’ll never forget, thanks for all the Great memory’s.

  10. Mr. Cynical says:

    Love ya Hines! Chris Crocker is an a**hole! You did not deserve the ridicule on your way out—Crocker calling Hines the dirtiest player in the league! More like the toughest competitor in the league!

    Hines you’re as tough as nails! Best of luck to you!

  11. jimbones says:

    Hines, you are one of the greatest Steelers of all time and we will miss you brother

  12. Wow! The emotion of his press conference properly expressed to the world his love of the city, the team and the game. Anyone who ever watched Hines play could see his love and devotion to those three things in his every action on the field.

    As the NFL evolves more and more into a passing league, Ward’s example as a tough slot receiver and down field pass blocker set the standard for his position. People who may question his credentials for the Hall of Fame need to ask themselves this question: Can the history of the NFL be properly told without mentioning Hines Ward? I think the answer is clearly “No, It Can Not”. See you in Canton in five years!

  13. Texas Steelers Fan says:

    I would like to see the Steelers try to work out some way for Hines Ward to continue mentoring the Steelers’ young receivers. Maybe as a coach; maybe as a formal or informal mentor.

  14. Supa Stillers says:

    For years to come we will see Hines Ward jerseys on Steeler fans.
    Hines has joined the ranks of the Steeler greats Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, etc.
    Way to go Hines Ward!

  15. Rick says:

    This has been a trying year for many reasons, Jobs and Paterno passing on, other things, then Hines being released.

    Hines, Steelers football will always be changed because of you. I would love to see you back and coaching the wide outs,

    Anyone questioning Ward’s credentials for the HoF, they are simply not football literate. Not when you have watched for 14 years a great and complete player that Hines has been. You don’t need 20,000 receiving yards or 700 TDs, you need what he brought to the game.

    And to the Steeler Nation!

  16. Christian says:

    Hines, you ARE the epitome of what we consider our Steelers to be. This unselfish act is just a microcosm of the class you have displayed in your 14 years here. Thank you for your dedication, spirit, leadership, and for teaching those under you. We love you and will miss you dearly. Love, Steeler Nation.

  17. Luis says:

    Hines Ward, thank you!There never was one WR like you. It was awesome and an honour watching you play. Thanks form Steeler Nation base Mx City. Cheers everyone on celebrating Hines Ward’s career.

  18. stainless says:

    The fans couldn’t be more proud of this man.

  19. Donna says:

    Hines…….

    As a football fan, I will miss you sincerely. But, I am so glad you retired rather than don another team’s uniform. You will always be a Steeler!!!!

    Also, what a dancer!!! You not only won the mirror ball trophy on DWTH but you demonstrated how you had already won the hearts of the nation. May your future continue to be blessed by love, respect and success.

  20. Steelers7thHeaven says:

    Love you Hines, you were a great Steeler, we will miss you and everything you brought to the game, good luck bro, stay strong!!

  21. Buckster says:

    Hines,

    It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch you during the years. Your enthusiasm, love of the game, and teamwork are what makes the Steelers the premier franchise in all of sports. Best wishes and thanks for the great memories.

  22. FrankR says:

    Congrats Hines on 14 Great years. Also RIP “Fargo” Ron Erhardt.

  23. DK67 says:

    We’ll miss you Hines! Now the Steelers need to find a coaching position for him so he’s still wearing black and gold on Sundays!

  24. Ron M says:

    I knew when the Steelers drafted Hines out of Georgia that he’d be a great player and he was much more. What a fantastic player for 14 years! I am so grateful he was a Steeler and that he decided to retire rather than try with another club. Thank you Hines for the effort you put forth every week. I wish you well in the future.

  25. Peppy Lizza says:

    Hall of Fame watch for Hines begins now….but you should probably stay in football shape. If some of the Steeler wide receivers go down, you will get a call…thank you for the many memories. Wishing great things for your future.

  26. David Smith says:

    Congratulation!! Job well done!! Canton bound– Regardless of what other think– Leader of the Steelers in every Receiving stat and Locker room. Blocking is part of the game and it should be what puts him over the top. Steeler were a run first pass second for most of Hines career. Steeler nation salute you. Three superbowl 2-1. Steeler Black and Gold.

  27. Clarence says:

    what else can be said that hasn’t already been said. But I do have to say it again. Thank you very much Hines Ward. Much luv to you bruh!!!

  28. Rick says:

    Hines
    You did not need to grant the fans of Steeler Nation any request as you said in your statement. It is a shame that you had to retire before you were ready. I wish something could have been work out to keep you in the roster but business is business.

    It is us the fans who owed you our support had you decided to continue with your carrer with a different team.

    I wsh you well in all your future endeavors

  29. Scott P says:

    Every time I see a WR tip toe out of bounds in the presence of an oncoming defender, I will think “Hines Ward would have lowered his shoulder, initiated contact, picked up a few more yards, spiked the ball and jogged away with a cat eating grin on his face”. It was the style of play more than the stats that will always keep Hines close to our hearts. He is a true Steeler through and through.

    Thanks for the memories Hines!!

  30. Bsteel says:

    If it weren’t for the fact that Steelers receivers would have to be injured for it to happen, the coolest thing in the world would be for the Steelers to have to sign Hines late in the season…and he makes the SB winning catch!

    No, wait–and it is thrown by CBatch!

  31. P.Love says:

    The Delaware Steeler Fans will miss your smiles and great plays on the playing field. You were a terrific asset to the Pittsburgh Steelers and we know you will be greatly missed.Wishing you the very best in your future endeavors.
    Thanks for the memories of those 14 awesome years.

  32. Curt says:

    Hines…Damn Man; You are a Legendary Man. See You Soon.

  33. Peggy says:

    the best player for the Steelers, gave his all. Sorry to see him go, would be nice if they could use you for a coach,whatever you will be remembered by all of the Steelers fans, no one can compare to Hines

  34. k2 says:

    Hines Ward was and always will be a Steeler (Great)!

  35. Matt says:

    I know it was said above, but I would love it if Hines came back as some type of assistant or something.

    Maybe he could coach linebackers once Butler takes over for LeBeau. ;D

  36. David says:

    Hines Ward, was born to be a Pittsburgh Steeler…….. and on the 8th day, God created Hines Ward…… and gave him to the Pittsburgh Steelers. may the wind be at your back, and bring you back to Pittsburgh as a Steelers Reciever Coach…. hint-hint

  37. james says:

    hey when are we going to sign mike wallace??

  38. David says:

    It would be an all out honor and respect for Hines Ward if on opening day, there were 68,000 plus Steelers Fans wearing #86 jersey….. it would be cool, and i would like to rally everyone to please wear his #86 jersey, 1st home, and 1st away game,,,,,,

  39. David says:

    86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 86 ………………. get the picture, if the entire stadium looked like this on opening day Hines Ward fo Ambassador to Pittsburgh!

  40. james says:

    who are we going to draft in the first round?

  41. David says:

    Gay signs with the Arizona Steelers…..

  42. Imp'n'Arn says:

    D #39:

    Fans will do something for the player formerly known as 86, but Steelers fans know that noone is bigger than the team. So, any display will be appropriately tempered. We expect that 86 himself will put the matter in the right perspective well before opening day.

    It’s the Steelers way.

  43. Imp'n'Arn says:

    Will Gay was better than we gave him credit for. But, players are ready to step up, and then there’s my sleeper DB: Myron Rolle. He’s a potentially great FA signing. It will be interesting to see if he has what it takes to be a player.

    J#40: Coby Fleener, TE Stanford

 
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