Blog Entry

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:38 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 8:06 pm
Hines Ward was Super Bowl XL MVP and the face of the Steelers  for more than a decade. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

After 14 seasons, 1,000 receptions and 85 touchdowns, Hines Ward's tenure in Pittsburgh is all but over. It was once a matter of if, now it's when, and team president Art Rooney II provided those details Wednesday.

“We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Rooney told the team’s website.

“Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines’ accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Ward released a statement of his own (via NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano):

"This isn't how I wanted this chapter of my career to end. I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I started here 14 years ago," he said. "I want to thank the organization, my teammates and coaches and everyone who made my run as a Steeler the best years of my life. To Mr. Rooney, thank you for allowing me to play for one of the greatest organizations in the world. To my fans and in particular, Steeler Nation, thank you for your support and all the great memories. I gave my heart and soul for you every down and I will always bleed black and gold. I do feel that I still have more football left in me and I am looking forward to playing in the NFL, again, this upcoming season."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac tweeted Wednesday that the organization felt that Ward had nothing left.

Decision to release 86 was not about money. He could've offered to play for free and wouldn't matter. Coaches feel he can't play anymore.
2/29/12 7:12 PM

Ward would have been Sunday inactive if Steelers kept him. They didn't want him taking a roster spot at expense of developing young player.
2/29/12 7:14 PM

The 2011 season was Ward's worst since his rookie campaign; he lost his starting job to second-year standout Antonio Brown and managed just 46 catches for 381 yards (and a career-worst 8.3 YPC average), and two touchdowns. Part of Ward's decline can be blamed on age (he's 35), but he also suffered a severely sprained ankle in Week 4's loss to the Texans.

Whatever the explanation, the Steelers are ready to move on without him, which means that the 2012 offense will feature quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing to Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace -- assuming the team extends his contract (he won't be franchised, at least to hear general manager Kevin Colbert at last week's combine). The three wideouts, none older than 25, constitute one of the league's most dynamic receiver corps, which should make new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's job a lot easier.

Ward, meanwhile, thinks he has a few years left. It just won't be in Pittsburgh -- unless the team re-signs him later this the summer, perhaps an option given that there are currently three wide receivers on the roster. More likely: the Steelers make a run at Jerricho Cotchery, who they signed to a one-year deal before the 2011 season to be the No. 5 wideout. By December, he had also surpassed Ward on the depth chart and proved to be a capable underneath target and a willing blocker.

While the Steelers continue their free agency and draft preparations, and Ward contemplates his NFL future, the conversation will inevitably turn to the latter's Hall of Fame credentials. In our minds, he's a lock. Then again, we don't have a vote.

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Since: Mar 16, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 7:17 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

This decision by the Steelers is one of the many fine examples of just how much of a business it has become.  No honor, no's just all about the organization and the players are expendable anymore.  The sad thing is, I wouldn't mind seeing this happen to the jerkoffs that hold out for long periods of time for huge sums of money, or for a**es that are meida wh*res.  But Hines was one of the very few good guys, and it sucks that he couldn't just retire a Steeler.  On another note, I would imagine he was a smart and frugal guy and doesn't need to play anymore, which is why I can't understand, after 14 years(?), that he wouldn't go out as such?  Funny game anymore.

Since: Feb 22, 2010
Posted on: March 1, 2012 2:03 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

As one of the devout Steeler Nation, it saddens me that Hines will not be an "active" Steeler next year.  I say "active" because he will ALWAYS be a Steeler, no matter what team he plays for in 2012. 

I loved his work ethic.  He was of the mold of those players from yesteryear and not the "me me me" generation of players we have now.  I loved his blocking and no fear of going over the middle, but most of all I loved the way he got up from a tackle with the biggest smile on his face.  This guy really was enjoying what he was doing.  Such a rarity these days in the current "get me the money" philosophy.

He was the consummate TEAM player, always keeping players up and passing on his knowledge to the younger up and coming receivers.

NFL Hall of Fame...absolutely

I wish him the best in the future and what a career he can look back upon.  Mulitiple SuperBowl victories and a 14 year career with no lasting injuries.  I would say he is definitely one of the lucky ones.  Good Luck Hines!

Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:47 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

This move could not be farther from poor taste. Ward was obviously not producing anymore last year, so the Steelers showed class in getting him his 1000 catches. Then they made no bones about the fact that they felt it was time for him to hang it up and hoped he would retire. Like many players in his position though, he wants to give it another shot, so the Steelers release him with their blessing and give him more than ample time to hunt down a contract. There was nothing malicious or subversive here, everything was placed right on the table. It would show better taste to retain a guy who would be merely taking up a roster spot and would more than likely be a healthy scratch each week? That would be more humiliating and you make no sense.

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:45 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

tarheel:  He should go play for the Ravens so he can make them regret their stupidity two times a year.

If he decides to play another year (or more), he will be looking to sign with a team that has a shot at a ring. 
That takes Baltimore out of the equation (unless he returns to the QB position he played in college, then maybe).

Since: Jan 7, 2010
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:28 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

That ankle sprain messed him up all season. I guarantee he has one more season left in him at a legitiate level somewhere else once he has time to fully heal up. Bank on it.

Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:19 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

How was this poor taste on the Steelers part? Ward has nothing left and from a football sense this was a no-brainer. I would love to see him retire a Steeler and will hate seeing him somewhere else, but the time had come and almost every Steeler fan that knows what their talking about would agree.

Since: Aug 14, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:03 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

LOL, what a shock a Ratbird fan WHINING about Ward. Ironically he has Reed in his username so I guess I could understand how happy he is that Ward won't be with the Steelers anymore since Ward DESTROYED Reed on an awesome block a few years back. Ward was the greatest Steelers WR of all time and it's ashame that his career had to end this way but he was a major reason why the Steelers were able to win two Super Bowls while he was in Pittsburgh. Thanks for everything Ward and especially thanks for making the Ratbird fans cry!

Since: Jan 7, 2010
Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:57 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 29, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:43 am

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Hines Ward was one of the nastiest, hard-hitting WR's to ever play the position.  I loved numerous hits you put on safetys and cornerbacks who were on the field with you, and stupid enough not to look where you were at all times!!!  Unfortunately All good things.....  Just like all great players before you, thank you for every Steeler game I watched over the last 10 years and screamed like an IDIOT when you squashed some un-expecting defensive back.  I can only hope one of our remaining Steeler WR's learned from you the importance of squashing unsuspecting DB's, its good for the offense, and dammit its good for us fans!!!

Since: Jan 17, 2012
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:55 pm

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

It's about time.  Ever since Hines got that Helmet to Helmet (Illegal and not penalized) Hit from that criminal ray Lewis he hasn't been the same.  Hines did some great things for the Steeler Organization and they helped him get 2 Super Bowl rings and a Super Bowl MVP award.  Nobody plays forever, not even that great Steeler Joe Greene so in that sense the time was right and Hines knows it or should know it.  Steeler Nation should know it also.  It's a business people, just ask the guys that go to greener financial pastures.  Big Money has ruined a great game!  Go in peace Hines.

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