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
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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.

gerrydulac
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

gerrydulac
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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Comments

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:47 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Why should Ward want to be an ambassador to a team who is dumping him so unceremoniously? After all he did for the franchise, this is how much respect they have for him? He should go play for the Ravens so he can make them regret their stupidity two times a year. Hines Ward is a legendary wide receiver who will be in the Hall of Fame someday, and after toughing it out with the Steelers through a few tough seasons and then leading them to successes such as two Super Bowl victories under different coaches, you would really think the Steelers would treat him as a hero.



Since: Feb 29, 2012
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:44 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Terrible news  about Hines.  He is a class act, a great mentor for the younger players, was willing to play for less, can still catch, and is a fan fave.  He is a real bargain so think about it Mr. Rooney.   



Since: Dec 18, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:34 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

I am and always will be a die hard Steelers fan. I am from Texas and I have enjoyed laughing in the faces of the Cowboys and Texans for the way there front office runs those teams. Now I will be getting it right back from the way our front office is running things now. You don't cut a Superbowl MVP and a player that has given his heart and soul to the front office, his teammates and the Steeler Nation. If Cotchery is still with the team they should have released him and renegotiated Ward's contract (Hines said he was willing to restructure) and let him finish his career with the Steelers. Hines was never the fastest, most athletic, tallest or had the best hands but there is nobody and I mean NOBODY who played the WR position with more HEART than he did. This is a sad day for the Steeler Nation!!!!!



Since: Dec 30, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:30 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

A wave of the Terrible Towel to Hines.  As a diehard Steeler fan, he truly represented Pittsburgh and Steelers with his style of play, toughness, and leadership, not to mention all his accomplishments.  I wear an #86 jersey every Sunday and will continue to do so as he will always be a Steeler in our hearts.

As far as fans feeling bad for him and how he's being treated, let's all remember that this happens every year with many players who want to string out their careers.  Business decisions have to be made and that is simply all it is - business.  It has nothing to do with lack of perceived loyalty or appreciation.  Both players and management alike understand this and realize not every career ends as storybook.  Hines' length of career has been outstanding and definitely longer than the average player and this plays into it as well.  Many players don't have that luxury due to career-ending injury, lack of motivation, etc. 



Since: Jan 2, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:17 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Art Rooney=idiot.  When you take Ward out of the linuep, the offense is the same as their defense if you took out Polamalu...they suck ass!  Again, just because of injury, you make some radical change, and yes, just like the Manning injury, and Peyton Hillis' hamstring woes, it was all about the money, and that's what influenced the decision.  Rooney's a tard.  For one, he hired a high-schooler to coach his team a few years ago (no wonder he's hiring the coaches now) and two, when he looks at his players, all he sees are dollars and cents...and maybe trade value.  Wallace could very well land in the same exact situation years from now.  You can bet he won't "end his career with the Steelers" if the money's wrong!  Just stupid.



Since: Apr 29, 2007
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:16 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Too bad. Hines Ward was a hard nosed class act. However, if you play long enough in the NFL the team is going to give you the axe when the next man up is better than you. Just the way it goes. Hope Ward retires a Steeler now and does not retire a Seahawk or a Raider or even a Bronco just to chase a few more bucks.



Since: Nov 4, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:08 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Hines Ward is a stud!  He has always played hard, blocked like a fullback, and did it all with a smile on his face.  He is a definite future Hall of Famer and I pray that he realizes that the end is at hand and there is life after football.  If he retires he will become an ambassador for one of the greatest franchises in professional sports.  If he doesn't retire and lands with another team he becomes a has-been who just can't let it go.  People reference Montana, Smith, Unitas, and Rice as examples of great players who have stuck around much too long.  I think of Franco Harris, an ex-Steeler.  Harris was actually holding out for the money.  He no longer had the skills but since he was only a few hundred yards away from breaking Jim Brown's career rushing record the Steeler's were willing to keep him around since they still had one of the better offensive lines in football and were certain that he would break the record.  Unfortunately, Franco didn't see it that way and went the route of these other great players and signed with the Seattle Seahawks, a terrible team at the time, and never surpassed the record or even finished the season.  I think it is very hard to admit that the rookies and players with much less seniority are now better than you are, but the reality is that age deteriorates the skills.

I truly hope that Hines Ward reevaluates his position and doesn't follow the path that so many other future HOF'ers have taken and becomes a great ambassador for a great team and preserves his legacy.  I doubt any good will come out of pursuing another year or more in a sport that no longer wants you as a player.



Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:53 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

I thought he was traded to the Gotham Rogues this off season?



Since: Jan 23, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:28 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

WARD IS A CLASS ACT-A LOYAL STEELER---A GREAT PLAYER--------BUT THEY DID IT TO WOODSON----COLTS TO MANNING----------THERE IS NO LOYALTY IN THE NEW PLAYERS IT IS ALL MONEY



Since: Jul 3, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:47 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Yes, the boy got some stones.  But dam he be taking the cheap shots at the other players.  I guess it is just who he is and his upbringing or what mentor he must have had in the neighborhood.  Do not feel bad for him, feel bad for his kind and relish the success he had had given to hims by Rothliessberger and the other team playas that made him shine from time to time.


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