Crocker played against Ward many times and told Bengals.com that he doesn’t appreciate the way Ward would blindside vulnerable opponents with hard hits that go beyond the bounds of fair play.
“He tried to end people’s careers and that’s not the way the game is supposed to be played,” Crocker said.
Crocker said Ward punched him in the face during a 2009 game, and many Bengals still have animosity toward Ward for the brutal block he laid on Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers in 2008, breaking Rivers’ jaw.
“Stuff like that, it’s just not right,” Crocker said. “And I’m not the only guy that thinks it.”
Having said all that, Crocker says Ward is one of the best receivers he ever played against and should be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“He’s probably the first receiver to make blocking such a big part of his game; he was an all-around receiver,” Crocker said. “He was a dirty player, but he made a lot of plays. They used him perfectly to suit his abilities and he was a big-time player for them. Some people might think of him as a borderline Hall of Famer, but I think the fact he helped them win two Super Bowls and all the things he did for that team make him deserving.”
A player can be great and dirty, and in Crocker’s view, Ward was both.