Steelers announce they will release Hines Ward

AP

After 14 seasons, 1,000 catches and one Super Bowl MVP award, Hines Ward’s time with the Steelers is coming to an end.

The Steelers announced today that they will release Ward, in a widely expected but still difficult decision.

“We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Steelers President Art Rooney II told Steelers.com. “Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines’ accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Ward, who will turn 36 next week, has been with the Steelers since they selected him in the third round of the 1998 NFL draft. He has won two Super Bowl rings, been chosen to four Pro Bowls and is the team’s all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

123 responses to “Steelers announce they will release Hines Ward

  1. Retire … but stay in shape. It’s a long season, and the Steelers may bring you back at some point for one last hurrah.

  2. Described as being slightly aggressive, but with no major medical problems, and surprisingly energetic for his age. Well trained, loyal, and excellent with children. Can be viewed Monday to Friday at the shelter.

  3. Before people start ripping Hines for whatever reasons…

    Hines was the apitomy of Steelers football for 14 years. He would stay in his lane and do his job, blocking LBs and getting up with a smile on his face. Never complained about money, roles, catches, yards or anything else these diva WRs care so much about.

    The fact that Ravens fans cant even stand to say his name is a testimant to how dominant of a player Hines Ward really was. He was a FOOTBALL player in an era where there are becoming less and less of them.

    I will forever respect Hines Ward, and he will forever be a Pittsburgh Steeler.

    All that said, this was the right move. I’d expect to see a few more cuts over the next couple days.

  4. One of the toughest SOBs in the game…ppl can say he took cheap shots or whatever but my coach told me in Pop Warner ball, keep your head on a swivel and Hines took advantage of those who didnt on his crack back blocks (ask Keith Rivers LOL)

    Thats not dirty, its called being physical…especially for a guy of his statue, I’ve always liked that about him and guys like Steve Smith (CAR)

  5. The end comes sooner or later for every player and that is just a fact.

    Hines Ward always played with the heart of a champion and has earned his place amongst the best Steelers ever.

    I wish him nothing but the best.

    Thanks Hines. See you in the Hall of Fame.

  6. Solid career and a good run with his original team. Given his recent injury history, I’d think it’d be best for him to hang up the cleats, but you never know. Maybe he has something more left in the tank?

    Either way I’ll never forget the times I watched him KO a defensive back on the line of scrimmage.

  7. Houston could use a vet, and they like physical WR’s. Hell, they signed Bryant Johnson and traded for Derrick Mason last year. They would probably wait till late in the offseason and see how the draft and free agency pan out first.

  8. Steeler Nation will miss you Hines. I’ll fondly remember you making Ed Reed spasm and quiver on the ground at your feet.

  9. “Truck is here to take Ol’ Hines to the retirement home, Benji, we’ll miss him, but he’ll have a better life there.

    I think that meant to say “Elmer’s Glen” on the side there, just a slight misspell.”.

  10. I don’t know if I should picture him skipping into the fields and celebrating 🙂 his career or cry 😦 to Jerome Bettis!!!

  11. One of the best steelers of all time; unfortunately, age has caught up to him, and the Steelers needed to make a tough decision, I will wish him well where ever he goes from here.

  12. fascinating – two Superbowl MVPs, both in trouble with the law, both AAs- cut. while the rapist white QB with some of the worst qb performances in Superbowl history gets to stay.

  13. phlyeagles20 says:
    Feb 29, 2012 5:33 PM
    All star player. Wish the Eagles WR would act like him on and off the field.

    _______________________________

    oh, you mean like get DUI’s and stuff?

  14. One of my all time favorite Steelers along with Jack Lambert and Joe Greene.And all of you who will say how he was dirty and a cheap shot artist wishes he played for your team.

  15. As a longtime Steelers and Hines Ward fan, they had BETTER re-sign his ass for the Super Bowl if they make it again this year, like the Saints re-signed Deuce McAllister for their Super Bowl against the Colts in 2009.

    It’s been a great run, Hines. Go out like a champ while you still can.

    Or become the receivers coach.

  16. I’m gonna miss his clutch catches, blocks and infectious smile. He deservedly will make it to the HOF. Every football fan, even if they won’t admit it, wishes he had played for their team. He was a winner and never took a play off. He was as clutch as Swanny or Stallworth were, although he wasn’t a tall, fluid or deep-threat receiver. When the game was on the line, he was there at the end, with ball in-hand and smiling. Happy retirement, Hines!

  17. Dolphin Fan here and just want to say that HW was one of the toughest WR’s that I have watched play the game and that is close to 50 years of watching NFL games. Besides being tough he always had a nose for the ball and would come up with the big 3rd or 4th qtr catch. If he has another year as a #3 WR (of course we need to find the #2 first) in the tank I would gladly take him on the Fins. Good luck Hines with whatever you do. Carpe Diem.

  18. Ben was able to offer some sage advice to Ward regarding the dismissal, “Just relax and take it. It’s gonna happen whether you fight it or not.”

  19. phillyfan4ever says:
    Feb 29, 2012 5:39 PM
    These old recievers are a trip, they are older slower and demand more money based off of their performance from the past.

    ———————————————–

    Hines offered to take a huge pay cut. Thanks for playing.

  20. “Before people start ripping Hines for whatever reasons…

    Hines was the apitomy of Steelers football for 14 years. He would stay in his lane and do his job, blocking LBs and getting up with a smile on his face. Never complained about money, roles, catches, yards or anything else these diva WRs care so much about.

    The fact that Ravens fans cant even stand to say his name is a testimant to how dominant of a player Hines Ward really was. He was a FOOTBALL player in an era where there are becoming less and less of them.

    I will forever respect Hines Ward, and he will forever be a Pittsburgh Steeler.

    All that said, this was the right move. I’d expect to see a few more cuts over the next couple days.”

    —–
    The problem with this statement is that Hines Ward wasn’t hated by other teams in his division because he was good or bad. He was hated because he took cheap shots, he whined about everything, and was a consummate sore loser. I think he was a great player but I would be annoyed with him on my team as much as I would be with having Ochocinco or any other diva receiver.

  21. this is not big news, he didnt do much for them last year, now the steelers will have better cap. not a bad career hines (coming from a ravens fan who hates your guts)

  22. Ward’s last play to make Sports Center? Getting lit up by Jarret Johnson. He’s probably still enjoying his ‘concussion-like’ symptoms.

    HoF WR? Don’t make me laugh.

    Ward’s true legacy is that when players were polled about who was the dirtiest players in the league, Ward consistently sat near the top of the list.

  23. Getting tired of reading all of these posts saying great on and OFF the field. This is the same guy who was just arrested for DUI. That means that he endangered MANY people!
    Look, I like to party as much as the next guy but I’m smart and safe about it.

  24. Steeler’s Will says:Feb 29, 2012 5:39 PM

    Steeler Nation will miss you Hines. I’ll fondly remember you making Ed Reed spasm and quiver on the ground at your feet.

    I would like to see hines ward square off with some of these defensive players face to face instead of the cheap shot blind side hits that made him such “a tough guy”

  25. “Hall of Fame? HAH!!!!”

    ???

    Hines will join the Steelers wing of the Hall because he brought way more than stats (1,000 catches) to the table.

    Moniker “best blocking WR” and plenty of highlights to prove it, converted college QB, trademark grin, DWTS mirror-ball champ…dude could have a Saturday morning cartoon created after him.

    It’s a shame Hines didn’t retire…because it is obvious age has caught up and he is done.

    Don’t try to sign elsewhere Hines…please realize it’s time and go quietly into the sunset.

    Thanks a million for the memories!

  26. I realize you were never fast Hines but now you are really not fast. Other than giving guys a breather on running plays there is nothing left on the field you can do. Move on, at least you can still drink and dance.

  27. As someone who has fundamentally hated the city of Pittsburgh, the Steelers, and the player who has best come to define that franchise over the last decade and a half (Hines Ward) for as long as I can remember, I feel like I’m pretty qualified to say that anyone who says Ward is not Hall of Fame bound just doesn’t know anything about football, symbolic players, or the Hall of Fame selection process.

  28. Steeley McBeam says:
    Feb 29, 2012 5:34 PM

    Hines was the apitomy of Steelers football for 14 years.
    ————————————————-

    “apitomy.” Ha ha ha… Not even close. Yinz must have stopped paying attention in grade school when they were teaching the kids how to spell 10 cent words. Silly yinzer.

  29. Swept by the Ravens and Tebow’d out of the playoffs, probably not how he wanted to go out in his last Steeler season.

  30. Steeley McBeam

    Calling Hines Ward “Dominant” is absolutely histerical. Keep em’ coming man, bravo!

  31. Hines, you have been the consummate Steeler – playing hard to the whistle every down. I will miss your spectacular blocking and clutch receptions. You never let us down. I wish this weren’t happening.

  32. He put up some amazing numbers considering he played in a run-first offense the majority of his career, and wasn’t the most athletic receiver out there. He just had a knack for getting open and making clutch catches. Maybe he’ll sign on somewhere else for a year, but he’s a Steeler for life.

  33. ravensd says: Feb 29, 2012 6:14 PM
    His career was ended week 1 of last season when Jarrett Johnson de-cleated him coming across the middle.
    —————————————————-
    I’m not a Ward fan but you have to respect him for knowing what sideline to stumble off to after that Jarrett Johnson hit.

  34. He was one of the best. It’s a sad situation. I wish he would have retired. I bet Ed Reed is happy. Ward knocked him atleast twice. Both times Reed was squared up and ready too.

  35. Reasons why Hines will be enshrined in the HOF:
    Steeler’s all-time leader in receptions (1,000), receiving yards (12,083), receiving touchdowns (85) and 100-yard receiving games (29).
    Eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions.
    He and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice as the only two players in league history to post 1,000 career catches and win multiple Super Bowls.

  36. I find it quite humorous that so many people who probably think they are knowledgable about football will make disparaging comments about Hines Ward. They cannot stop their homerism from getting in the way of being honest about someone that epitomized what being a football player meant. Hines always came ready to play, and he played as hard as anyone on offense or defense. He was a very good WR in his prime. He was an outstanding blocker. He was a team player and never caused trouble for the team. He was a leader on the field. I am so happy to have been able to watch him play for my team for all these years. I bet a number of these so-called football experts secretly wish that Hines had played for their team. But he didn’t, and they can’t find a way to be honest about him. Now you watch if their team picks him up. You watch the IDs start to laud him. Just laughable.

    Hines, thanks for the great production. You are very likely a future hall-of-famer. You will always be a Steeler in my book.

  37. Steeley McBeam says:

    The fact that Ravens fans cant even stand to say his name is a testimant to how dominant of a player Hines Ward really was.

    Aside from a few loudmouths, most Ravens fans respect Mr. Ward. A very very tough opponent that played the game the way it was meant to be played (before Goddell took over anyway). It’s a shame his DUI has slightly tarnished his image, because he is truly a class man off the field.

  38. steelcurtainn says: Feb 29, 2012 6:18 PM

    What a dumb move! Should have kept him for 1 more year at the Vet Minimum.

    I don’t think it was as much a $$$ move as it was a roster spot. Hines would have been a 4th or 5th receiver, and most teams use those on special teams – which at this point in his career isn’t a good idea. Shame to see him go; but as a rival fan I’m happy not to have our team face him again!

  39. Hey Steeley McBeam… it’s “epitome”, not “apitomy”… I see that Pittsburgh education has served you well.

    Hines Ward is a punk.

    Go Browns!

  40. Andy Reid is gonna make some wild moves to keep his job. Signing Plaxico Burress or Hines Ward to a 3 year contract would be a perfect example. Plus, Michael Vick would love the publicity.

  41. Hines Ward has been a true professional since he entered the league. He was a key component to the Steelers success and it was a treat to watch him on the football field every Sunday. Not only a formidable receiver, he was a bone crushing blocker and had a true desire to compete and win.

    With all that said, it is a stretch to put him in the HOF, there are plenty of WRs more deserving than him. If he gets in it’s because of one reason, he was a Pittsburgh Steeler.

    Just retire Hines and enjoy life after football, you’ve got nothing left to prove or accomplish. Only the greats have 14 year careers with one team!

  42. Goodbye & good riddance!!! There is so much I respect about the guy’s game…no doubt he is tough as nails, gave 120%, and was incredibly dependable and productive…but he was also a dirty player & cheap shot artist who was totally unremorseful which says to me that he didn’t give a rat’s behind about the health & well being of his brothers-in-arms…which also says to me that as skilled as he was as a player, he has no class as a person. And to those Steelers fans who say we Ravens fans won’t acknowledge Hines’ extraordinary skills…I say yes we will…it is YOU who will not acknowledge his short comings because that is, after all, what makes him a true Steeler & Steeler fan favorite: complete lack of class, caring or concern.

  43. randolf711

    Dude, they hated him because they wanted him. He blew up Ed Reed, Bart Scott, and Suggs on multiple occasions (probably the only guy in the NFL with enough balls win the battles against all three) and that’s why they hated him. They would kill for a consummate player like that.

    90% of his blocks were straight up and legal. He only got notoriety for the breaking Rivers’s jaw.

    That happened on a legal hit, by the way.

    Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge how much they wished for a player like that is a complete liar.

    I’m honest enough to admit that Ray Lewis would have been a great addition to the Steelers, despite his 2 murders.

    Hopefully, other people are honest enough to say the same about Hines.

  44. randolf711 says: Feb 29, 2012 6:03 PM

    “Before people start ripping Hines for whatever reasons…

    Hines was the apitomy of Steelers football for 14 years. He would stay in his lane and do his job, blocking LBs and getting up with a smile on his face. Never complained about money, roles, catches, yards or anything else these diva WRs care so much about.

    The fact that Ravens fans cant even stand to say his name is a testimant to how dominant of a player Hines Ward really was. He was a FOOTBALL player in an era where there are becoming less and less of them.

    I will forever respect Hines Ward, and he will forever be a Pittsburgh Steeler.

    All that said, this was the right move. I’d expect to see a few more cuts over the next couple days.”

    —–
    The problem with this statement is that Hines Ward wasn’t hated by other teams in his division because he was good or bad. He was hated because he took cheap shots, he whined about everything, and was a consummate sore loser. I think he was a great player but I would be annoyed with him on my team as much as I would be with having Ochocinco or any other diva receiver.

    ***********************************************************

    How is he a diva? Did he regularly create drama internally within the team or in the locker room? No. Did he go around begging for attention with the media in Pittsburgh, or downplay others to make himself look good when he had a camera in front of him? No. Did he go to the Rooneys, compare himself to other WRs in the NFL or claim himself “elite,” and demand tons of cash? No. So, how is the guy a diva? If anything, he was known for working with the team’s younger receivers in the past to help them ramp up in the Steelers’ system, he was popular in the city, he’s had a great career with one organization, he does anti-discrimination work with kids, and he always has a smile on his face. That fit your profile of a diva?

    Relatedly, where do you get the Ochocinco comparison? If you are annoyed with having guys on your team because they play aggressive, physical football, then maybe I can see why you’d be annoyed with having Ward on your team. He has put a few potentially questionable hits on people over the years, but that was one of the reasons why the guy is awesome – one of the primary tasks associated with many defensive positions is to hit hard, and Ward was often better at it than the guys he was hitting. Show me another WR that’s benefitted his team’s backs and other receivers by blocking for them and opening up lanes like Ward has. Especially in this day and age, where it’s all about stat padding to benefit your paycheck and status, I don’t think you can. The fact that he plays so physically and yet has been around since 1998 is a testament to his durability. Nobody in Pittsburgh was annoyed with having him on the team – he’s been one of their most popular players over the past 15 years.

  45. I have never been able to stand Hines Ward, but I have always been able to give credit where its due. He was loyal to his team and a good player…See ya on the Jets wid the other Ward…

  46. One of the greatest Steelers ever! Thank you for all you have did for the Steelers. Hard work and dedication. See you in the Hall Hines!

  47. Pittsburgh Steeler’s all-time leader in receptions (1,000)
    Receiving yards (12,083)
    Receiving touchdowns (85)
    100-yard receiving games (29).

    Eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions.

    I have nothing but Respect for those numbers.

  48. F Hines Ward. Anyone with an ounce of objectivity in them would realize he was a hack who only got away with his “crushing blocking” because he played for the blue-collar, rough and tumble Pittsburgh Steelers.

  49. In related news, DeKalb County (Georgia) police say that they will ALSO release Hines Ward soon too…

  50. One of the most overrated WRs of the past 15 years. He never dominated nor took over games. He didn’t even require a defense to double team him. He is a compiler of stats. Never once did he finish in the top 10 in yards in a season.

    If Chris Carter and Andre Reid can’t get in HOF no way he will and he will be competing against the likes of Moss, TO, Marvin Harrison.

    Good career but not great. Better known for blocking then a dominate WR.

  51. “it is YOU who will not acknowledge his short comings because that is, after all, what makes him a true Steeler & Steeler fan favorite: complete lack of class, caring or concern.”

    Ray Lewis killed a guy. Oh, and Baltimore is a far more dangerous, less educated and wealthy city than Pittsburgh.

    Back to you.

  52. Reading comments from Steelers fans is quite entertaining, if you can actually figure out what language they are speaking. It sure isn’t English.

  53. The inevitable ultimatum given to many great players as they get older… Montana, Favre, Jordan, Gretzky etc.

    “Retire a player of this team or we will release/trade you and move on.”

    Teams have to do it to stay competitive. It’s the only way.

    If Ward thinks he can still play in the league he should go play for a team with a good QB and try to be a productive possession receiver for a few years. The elite teams want no part of him any longer. He was great, but past performance is no longer relevant.

  54. Hines was not a cheap shot player. He took angles in making blocks that are legitimate, and the defender didn’t keep his vision looking at all angles as he pursued the ball carrier. That is not Hines’ fault. He didn’t blow out knees, or purposely hit in the head. He used his shoulders and extended out his arms, he didn’t start with leading with his helmet. There is nothing more that he could have done to play the game the way it’s meant to be played in a violent manner.

  55. Hines never dominated or took over game? Haven’t been paying much attention to any game film of note if that’s your perspective.

  56. He got open time and time again on crucial 3rd down moments that kept drives alive for his entire career. Just because he didn’t run the 40 in 4.3 seconds and run by everybody doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great receiver. And Andre Reed got rocked in big games going across the middle and didn’t catch the ball effectively or in crucial times. Chris Carter also avoided the middle in cuts and made a living off of 10, 15, and 20 yard outs where he could make his outstretched catches and fall out of bounds without getting hit.

  57. Reed and Carter are great receivers that do deserve Hall of Fame status, but Ward was willing to deal with the violence that many receivers avoid. He was a complete FOOTBALL PLAYER! How many times is Andre Reed or Chris Carter known for being a complete FOOTBALL PLAYER that blocked for his teammates the way Hines did?
    And in terms of great hands, Hines made great catches over the course of his career that were just as aesthetically pleasing as Reed or Carter.

  58. To all the people hating on Hines Ward and to those that implied the Ravens hate him because he was dirty and not for the fact that he was a great player. Here’s a little perspective for you….Hines has 529 more receptions than any Raven has hauled in during his career (Derrick Mason 471 catches). Hines has racked up 7000 more yards than any other player in the history of the Ravens franchise (Mason 5777). Hines has also caught 44 more TD’s than the Ravens all time leader Todd Heap (41). The Ravens and a lot of other teams may never have a receiver the caliber of Hines Ward. He also has two more rings than any member of the Ravens not named Ray Lewis and in that case he’s still got Ray-Ray by one!

  59. What I have learned in this thread. Bengal homers can’t spell and Raven homers can’t use punctuation.

  60. steekergold,
    I wouldn’t talk if I were you. Steeler fans can’t spell, use punctuation, or even talk correctly. Does Steelers pronounced “Stillers” sound familiar? What a joke.

  61. Hey Steeley I’m a Ravens fan…Hines Ward there I said it

    And did someone say he knocked Reed out twice and Reed was squared up and ready? Are you kidding me it was a blind shot…now when he came across the middle and Johnson put him on his back was two players squared up. The sad thing was Ward was running with momentum and Jarrett Johnson was standing there then laid him out and made him look like a fool!

    None the less it was fun to watch these two teams on the field with him out there…these are classic games. I can sit here and rattle off all the names and plays that make these games special. These are not two throw and score teams with no defense (Sorry Packers, Saints, and Patriot fans) these games are real football. Broken noses, bruises, blood, players playing hurt in the cold with breathe right strips on there noses, covered in dirt grass and paint from the field, hard hits, and trash talk all we need is someone to roll out there with a three bar face mask with the bar coming down the middle, a missing tooth, and a hand taped up like a mitten…can’t wait for next year!

    So as a Raven fan good luck Hines.

  62. “Hey Browns! sign this clown, maybe he could help you figure out how to beat Pitt this yr. Wouldnt that be funny to see him in Cle uni”
    __________________

    The only reason I’d sign him is to go out and put a designated head shot on James Harrison.

  63. “What I have learned in this thread. Bengal homers can’t spell and Raven homers can’t use punctuation.”
    ________________

    Wow. Spelling and punctuation smack talk from a Steelers fan. Somebody take a picture so we can prove it happened.

  64. Steeler fans have never been known to be too sharp , but the ones who became Steeler fans for merely the fact that it is convenient because theyve winners recently, you know who you are! Alert the media bc the Steelers are in for some rough times ahead, i.e. aging defense, poor running game and busted up QB whose best times are behind him. So when your team starts to fall, be a man about it, don’t ditch your team. I must clarify this pertains to California Steeler fans not the ones from Penn, WV etc. who are amonst the most die hard fans in the US. Hines signs with Baltimore ha ha!

  65. southyank7 says:
    Feb 29, 2012 6:00 PM
    come down to charlotte, Carolina Panthers could use you
    ———
    Ummm, LOL hell no.

  66. class act & solid player for the steelers but, if the 9ers could let JERRY RICE go then hines ward is no different

  67. With 1000 receptions and 85 TD’s and his blocking ability, Hines Ward should be in the HOF. He’s in the Top 10 in career receptions and the Top 20 in career yardage, excellent blocker, tough player.

    Can he be exchanged for Lynn Swann? Although he had some good SB appearances, he shouldn’t be in the hall with with 353 receptions and 51 touchdowns. He’s in there on the basis of two good Super Bowl appearances, with 11 receptions, 285 yards, and 2 TD’s. His other 2 Super Bowls? 5 receptions, 79 yards, 1 TD. He’s in there because he was on great teams, not because he was great. Louis Lipps has more career receptions and yards than Swann!

  68. You could argue his stats, You could argue whether he is a HOF, but the guy played with a passion and blue collar work ethic that defined Pittsburgh. Hines is forever a Steeler no matter where he goes.

  69. jg725 says:
    Feb 29, 2012 6:29 PM
    “I would like to see hines ward square off with some of these defensive players face to face instead of the cheap shot blind side hits that made him such “a tough guy””
    ————————-
    These defensive players (collectively) had their chances every week for many years, and most often couldn’t get the job done. They failed 1000 times.

  70. Thanks Hines for all the great Sunday afternoons, I wish you all the best and maybe we’ll see you around Flowery Branch later this year. Hopefully you can help bring Julio Jones along.

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