Thursday, March 01, 2012

This isn't how we wanted it to end, either, Hines.

"This isn't how I wanted this chapter of my career to end,'' Hines Ward said in a statement.

Neither did we, Hines; neither did we.

"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."

No, thank you, Hines; many thanks.

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls remember being thrilled when the Steelers selected Hines in the third round of the 1998 draft.  We'd seen him shine as a wide receiver/running back/quarterback/kick returner in college, especially in the 1997 Georgia-Florida game, which he took over and more or less won single-handedly.  At the time, we said, "Now, that's a football player.  That guy would look great in black 'n gold."

He was, and he did.  Ward's game was never about pure speed, but he had enough speed for 1,000 receptions, 85 touchdowns and 14 years (so far) in the NFL. 

Hines Ward's game was about leadership, productivity, reliability, clutch catches, blocking, finding open spots on the field, setting an example and finding the end zone.  He did all of the above, and arguably did all of them better and longer than any receiver in Steelers history.  Not to mention what he did off the field, both within the Steelers' organization and for various humanitarian causes, charities and civic organizations. 

This ain't no obituary, but we'll miss you, Hines.  Best wishes for continued success.

Hines Ward is an all-time great Steeler and deserves to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.