Steel Sensations…A look back at Hines Ward

In this Feb. 5, 2006, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (86) leaps into the end zone past Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant on on a 43-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El in the fourth quarter during the Super Bowl XL football game in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
In this Feb. 5, 2006, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (86) leaps into the end zone past Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant on on a 43-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El in the fourth quarter during the Super Bowl XL football game in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Hines Ward is one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history and his legacy will live on in Pittsburgh forever. The future NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver was beloved in the Steel City for all he brought to the team through his magnificent plays catching the football, his crushing blows on defenders, his hustle, his blue collar work ethic and the fact that he did it all with a smile.

Ward was drafted out of the University of Georgia in the 1998 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 3rd round. At UGA, Ward played wide receiver, tailback and quarterback. He currently ranks second in Bull Dog history in reception and receiving yards and holds the team record for pass attempts, completions and yards in a bowl game as a quarterback.

While with the Steelers, Ward transitioned to a full time wide receiver and put up a Hall of Fame caliber career. He helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to two Super Bowl championships and a third appearance in the big game as well. He has 1,000 career receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns in his career. All three of those numbers are Pittsburgh Steelers records and make Ward the most decorated Steelers wide out of all time.

- In this Jan. 11, 2009, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, right, and retired Steelers running back Jerome Bettis smiles during an NFL divisional playoff football game against the San Diego Chargers in Pittsburgh. Bettis served as a mentor to Ward, showing Ward the ropes when he entered the NFL. He'll do the same on the links almost 20 years later. Before Bettis is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he'll compete in the 26th annual celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe for the ninth time, joining Ward, a rookie in the field, and more than 80 of the biggest sports and entertainment stars for the nationally-televised event. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
– In this Jan. 11, 2009, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, right, and retired Steelers running back Jerome Bettis smiles during an NFL divisional playoff football game against the San Diego Chargers in Pittsburgh. Bettis served as a mentor to Ward, showing Ward the ropes when he entered the NFL. He’ll do the same on the links almost 20 years later. Before Bettis is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he’ll compete in the 26th annual celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe for the ninth time, joining Ward, a rookie in the field, and more than 80 of the biggest sports and entertainment stars for the nationally-televised event. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Ward was as valuable as any player to ever play for the black and gold as he made four NFL Pro Bowls, won three team MVP awards, was the MVP of Super Bowl XL, became part of the Pittsburgh Steelers all-time team, was inducted into the Pittsburgh Pro Football Hall of Fame and his 1,000 catches rank him 10th all-time in the NFL.

Ward could always be counted on to go across the middle and was never afraid to take a hit. He would fight for the extra yard on every play and was a vicious blocker, allowing his teammates to get further down field. Wards’ number 86 is no longer issued in the organization and it wouldn’t be shocking if he had a statue built outside of Heinz Field one day.

Hines Ward may now be retired and his playing career behind him but he will never be forgotten in the Steel City.

Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at mike@steelnationassociation.com.

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