I remember Hines Ward, after last year’s Super Bowl victory, hobbling to his podium, barely able to walk, soaking up every last second of the win with his daughter.
After discussing the game, Ward was asked about the pain he played in that night, the exhaustive treatments he undertook to get ready for the game, and the upcoming surgeries he was likely to go under.
And I thought: it’s great for Ward he won another title because there are probably only so many surgeries a player can go through. In the end, he only had his shoulder “cleaned up” and avoided another procedure on his long-troublesome knees.
And now, after a career defined more by third-down conversions and blocks than statistics, Ward is leading the league in receiving yards and tied for the lead in receptions.
“I would hope people would be proud of me,” Ward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week. “There’s a guy 33 years old leading the league. . . . I’m having the best time of my life,” he said. “I’m having fun. This is definitely fun. I look forward to Sundays.”
Just like Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes, and Mike Wallace, Ward is benefiting from Ben Roethlisberger’s career season and Pittsburgh’s new pass-first approach. (And Roethlisberger is benefiting from a running game and defense that is forcing him to throw more than usual.)
Like the other receivers, Ward is making more plays down the field than ever before. He is on pace to set a career high in yards per catch.
“When I retire is the day when I watch on film and say the Hines I know
can beat this guy and then I can’t get open on this guy. Then I’m done,
because I don’t want to end on that note. I want to go out on top.”