I’ll let everyone else tell the story of how tough Hines was, how great of a wideout he has been, his stats, his Super Bowl MVP, yeah, I will leave that to my fellow bloggers at Behind The Steel Curtain.
The story I am going to tell is a little more personal. First, everyone always asks me who my favorite Steeler is and I am hard pressed to name one, just one. It’s true. You can even argue old school vs new school and I still can’t choose. But when forced, I would probably defer to Hines (unless I am on the Jerome Bettis show and then I have no choice but to answer with the Bus, right?). And the reason? For the last decade or so, I have watched a little boy grow up a Steelers fan while he will now claim Mike Wallace as his inspiration and whose number he wears at his own football games, Hines is the WR who inspired him to even think about BEING a WR in the first place. I can’t tell you how many times I have said, “Block, block like Hines.” And when he does, I am the obnoxious football mom in the stands screaming, “That’s it baby Hines Ward, that’s it!!” Sounds crazy, but it’s happened a million times. Steelers fans understand it, Steelers football moms like me get it even more. I see my son catch a pass, great…but I see him block and I lose my mind in the stands. There’s just something about a tough wideout that is irreplaceable. For that, his game will always be appreciated.
And without Hines, do the Steelers have such a great, talented crew of young, up and coming wide receivers? The stories they have told about his mentoring, his sharing…and even making them carry his pads (I’m remembering E88 at his first training camp specifically carrying those pads! lol), make him great.
I hate the idea of him possibly wearing another teams jersey and hope that one of two things really happens: A) he remains part of the Steelers coaching staff OR B) he lands in the booth or on NFLNetwork (he could definitely shut Warren Sapp up, right?). I don’t know what will happen, but it would break my heart to see him playing somewhere else. To me, he’ll always be a Steeler and like those who have come before him (I’m looking at you Rod Woodson) he will forever be remembered in the black and gold.
I definitely need a moment to process this. I hate the business of football and with the salary cap issues the Steelers face, there may be more moments like this one before it’s all said and done.
Stay strong Steeler Nation. The team will prevail and give us their all. I know they will.
But I know, for 2012, I think I am wearing my number #86 for every game as my tribute to a great player.
love you Hines Ward!