Steelers receiver Hines Ward has 954 career catches, so midway through the 2011 season he’s likely to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,000. Ward doesn’t talk a lot about his personal statistics, but he makes no secret of the fact that getting 1,000 would mean a lot to him.
“That would be awesome to get 1,000 catches and do it all for one organization,” Ward said. “It wasn’t like I’m in a prolific passing offense, it’s not like I’m playing in a dome. I think it’s just a milestone of consistency I’ve had my whole career and just being there. That would be huge.”
Ward called the 1,000-catch mark “like 3,000 hits, 600 home runs,” but there are more baseball players who have reached those two marks (28 have 3,000 hits and eight have 600 home runs) than there are NFL players who have reached 1,000 catches. The difference is that in baseball those numbers have been yardsticks of greatness for decades, whereas in the NFL no one ever even approached the mark until Jerry Rice passed it in the 1990s.
Rice’s career total of 1,549 catches won’t be topped any time soon, but Ward has a real chance of passing Marvin Harrison, who’s No. 2 all-time with 1,102 catches. (Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who’s currently at 1,069, will likely pass Harrison first.)
Ward thinks he has at least a couple more good seasons left in him, so he should keep climbing the receiving charts.
“I know I’m getting older,” Ward said, “but I’m in great condition, I look crisp out there, I feel good. It’s a matter of staying healthy for 16 games.”
If Ward does stay healthy for 16 games, he’s virtually assured of catching his 1,000th pass.