Hines Ward: Tough Player but Not Bad Guy
Hines Ward is one of my favorite Steelers, if you didn’t know this already, now you do.Â Last night’s interview with Bob Costas has created quite a stir not just among those in Steeler Nation, but nearly every football fan out there.Â I actually have a little bit different perspective than how it seems everyone else sees this going down.
What I witnessed was a player, who, like everyone in Steeler Nation, was hoping that the Steelers would have all their weapons against the Ravens.Â This matchup is always tough, and typically,Â always means something too.
Last year was the AFC Championship andÂ which team would ultimatelyÂ head to the Super Bowl- this year, theÂ chance for a wildcard to make it to post-season play.Â In other words, last night’s matchup was a big deal.
Who didn’t want Ben to play? Or Troy? Or Aaron Smith? Or heck, even Charlie Batch? (raise your hands, scans the crowd, yup, that’s what I thought)
The problem, in my opinion, is that no one knew Ben’s status until Saturday morning.Â He practiced with the team as usual all week so it was a surprise that he was not going to be playing.Â Now, as frustrating as that may be, it also was required.Â I don’t think any of us would have wanted to give the Ravens any extra time to prepare for the game knowing they were going against Dixon.Â As it was, they had more than 24 hours to do so.Â I don’t blame the coaching staff for keeping that decision under wraps, but they might have let the team know a little more than what they did beforehand.
Last night after the game, Coach Tomlin said, “I will give our football team that information. At the time that the information came down, I was more concerned about getting Dennis ready to play, and I proceeded with the assumption that our men understood what kind of competitive setting it is. If they donâ€™t, Iâ€™ll tell them.â€
Yes, getting Dennis ready to play – also BIG DEAL, right?Â Yes.Â Â Â (nod your heads)
Clearly, he’ll take care of business. Do you doubt him?
Look at this face- seriously, do you think he won’t handle any negativity in the locker room?
I’m betting my terrible towel that he squashed that nonsense right away, comprende? (nod heads again please)
Don’t get me wrong, I think that concussions are serious and I would rather see Ben on the sideline than playing in a game and risking his long-term health.Â And I guarantee no one on the teamÂ feels otherwise.Â Guaranteed. Not even Hines.
Think back to the beginning of November when Ryan Clark wanted to play in Denver Â but Coach and the doctors didn’t want to take the risk. Everyone on the team supported that decision. I don’t think it’s any different now.Â Hines publicly said Ryan should not play.Â Publicly.
I thinkÂ last night’s interviewÂ was just Hines wearing his emotions on his sleeve.Â Ben means a lot to the team and this was a big game, BIG game, do you guys hear me? BIG GAME.Â Hines has since admitted he used a poor choice of words in the interview.Â He let his frustration take over.
I know full well that Coach Tomlin, Ben and Hines will not allow this to divide the locker room.Â There is no one who can question Ben’s toughness-he’s played with a separated shoulder and broken ribs.Â Remember the motorcycle accident? Ben plays all the time when he’s hurt, so everyone knows this is serious for him to sit out for a BIG BIG BIG game.
The bottom line, it wasn’t a great sound byte to hear on national TV, but I have faith that it wasn’t nearly as negative as the media is portraying it.
Hines made a mistake.Â He’s human, he let his emotions and frustration get the best of him.Â But he’s still one of my favorite Steelers.
The NFL is doing the right thing when it comes to dealing with concussions. The Steelers did the right thing with Ben on the sidelines. And Hines will do the right thing and make sure he doesn’t say anything negative again, and I’ll bet my terrible towel he’s already apologized to Ben and let him know he supports him.
Now can we get back to winning games and getting back on the stairway to seven?
C’mon Steeler Nation, support your boys.Â Let’s go Steelers!
(let the comments begin)
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