After 14 seasons of going over the middle, making tough blocks and hauling in important catches, WR Hines Ward announced his retirement on Tuesday. The physical receiver decided to hang up his shoulder pads, despite interest from some other teams following his release on March 1.
Ward goes down as one of the greatest receivers in Pittsburgh history. He finished his career with exactly 1,000 receptions, along with 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns, all of which are all-time bests for the legendary franchise. He was also known for his devastating blocking and was a four-time Pro Bowler.
A third-round pick out of Georgia in 1998, Ward was a key to the success the Steelers had over the course of his career. He started 190 regular-season games, along with 18 postseason games. Ward was the MVP of Super Bowl XL, when he hauled in five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, and also helped the Steelers win Super Bowl XLIII three years later.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Ward said that it was important to retire as a Steeler, though he could have continued his career with another team.
"You guys mean the world to me," Ward said. "This city and this organization mean the world to me. Today I came back to Pittsburgh to grant Steelers Nation one last request, so today I am officially retiring as a Pittsburgh Steeler."
The way we see it
Ward's retirement closes the book on a remarkable career. The Steelers had both run- and pass-first philosophies during his tenure, but Ward was a strong fit no matter the scheme. The Steelers have drafted well at wide receiver in recent years, and the emergence of Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown has left the club in very good shape at the position. But make no mistake — Ward was one of the most productive and well-rounded receivers of his generation. An integral part of two Super Bowl-winning clubs, Ward is forever a part of Steelers lore and will draw Hall of Fame consideration.