Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Jan 2006

Too Deep Zone: Hines 57

by Mike Tanier

Unlike most star wide receivers, Hines Ward isn't a showboat, a prima donna, or a malingerer. Therefore he doesn't get a lot of ink.

Actually, in the paradoxical world of sports journalism, he gets tons of ink about not getting a lot of ink. With over a week of Super Bowl hype to go, you're going to hear a lot about Ward. And every other Steelers player. And all of the Seahawks.

But just in case the national media misses Ward while tripping over itself to get to Jerome Bettis, I decided to collect some random facts about Ward: some statistical, some personal, and some involving tangential topics like football cards, radio controlled cars, video games, banana ketchup, Buddy Dial, and Benedictine Monks. How many facts did I collect? Well, the guy's name is Hines, after all.

1. Ward was born in Seoul and is half Korean. The Korean translation of his name is tattooed on his upper right arm.

2. Ward's parents divorced when he was 14 months old. His mother washed dishes in the Atlanta airport and worked several other jobs to support him when he was in elementary school.

3. Ward does not have an anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees as the result of a childhood bicycle accident.

4. Ward attended Forest Park High School in Georgia. Their nickname is the Panthers. Their school musical this year is Peter Pan.

5. At Forest Park, Ward was named the Clayton County Offensive Player of the Year twice. He played quarterback in high school.

6. In 1993, when Ward was Offensive Player of the Year, Izell McGill was Defensive MVP. McGill later tied a Mississippi State University team record with six interceptions in 1997. McGill did not reach the pros, but Ward and McGill faced off several times in college.

7. Ward passed for 3,581 yards and 38 touchdowns while rushing for 2,500 yards and 29 touchdowns in three prep seasons, but he never won the Clayton County championship. After he graduated, Todd Wells took over and took the Panthers to the Georgia state playoffs twice.

8. Ward played running back as a freshman at Georgia. Mike Bobo was the Bulldogs quarterback. When Bobo got hurt, Ward moved to quarterback.

9. Ward threw for 413 yards and rushed for 56 yards in the Peach Bowl as a true freshman. Georgia lost that game to Virginia, 34-27, on a last-minute kickoff return touchdown by Demetrius Allen. Tiki Barber rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown in the game. Ward was named Offensive MVP for the game.

10. Ward shared kickoff return duties with Champ Bailey during the 1997 season. He shared them with Patrick Pass during the 1996 season.

11. Ward is tied with Reggie Brown for fourth place on the all-time receptions list for Georgia. He's second to Herschel Walker in career all-purpose yards for the Bulldogs.

12. The year before Ward was drafted, Yancey Thigpen led the Steelers in receiving. Thigpen reached the Pro Bowl with a 79-catch, 1,398-yard, 7-touchdown season in 1997.

13. Ward was a third-round pick. The Steelers spent three first-round picks on wide receivers in the 1990's, two of them after they selected Ward: Charles Johnson in 1994, Troy Edwards in 1999, and Plaxico Burress in 2000.

14. Those three players combined for 607 receptions with the Steelers, 33 more than Ward.

15. Ward was selected 92nd overall in the 1998 draft. He was the last player taken on Day One of the draft. Kevin Dyson was the first receiver drafted that year; Randy Moss was second.

16. We know how Moss turned out. Dyson's career has been sabotaged by injuries; his brother Andre may cover Ward in Super Bowl XL. Other receivers drafted before Ward include Marcus Nash (also a first-round pick), Jerome Pathon, Jacquez Green, Patrick Johnson, Mikhael Ricks, Brian Alford, and E.G. Green.

17. Wide Receiver Larry Shannon was drafted by the Dolphins ten spots before Ward in the 1998 draft. Shannon averaged 21.4 yards per catch and scored nine touchdowns for East Carolina in 1996 before hurting his ankle in 1997. He never caught a pass in the NFL. Az Hakim was selected four spots after Ward.

18. Brian Griese was selected one spot before Ward. Guard Steve McKinney was drafted after Ward.

19. Here's part of the scouting report on Ward from the 1998 CNN/SI Draft War Room: "One of the more versatile players in this draft … He is obviously a great athlete and a very explosive player … He has good hands, and overall ball skills, but may need some refinement as a WR, as his experience is not as deep as most of the WRs in this draft.. He may not be ready as a rookie, but there is a good upside to this guy, because of his versatility and athleticism."

20. Ward's first career reception was a 12-yard pass from Kordell Stewart. His first career completion was a 17-yard pass to Stewart.

21. Ward was a special teams standout as a rookie, recording 28 special teams tackles. He downed four punts inside the 10-yard line, one of them at the one-yard line and another at the two-yard line. He also stuffed Titans punter Craig Hentrich for a one-yard loss on a fake punt.

22. In Ward's rookie season (1998), Courtney Hawkins led the Steelers with 66 receptions. Johnson led the team in receiving yards with 813. Ward finished fourth on the team in receiving; Will Blackwell was third in both receptions and yards.

23. One major on-line sports trading card company is currently selling Ward's rookie football card for $7.99. That price gets you either the Score rookie card or the Upper Deck MVP rookie card.

24. That same website is currently selling Bryant McFadden and (incredibly) Brian St. Pierre rookie cards for $7.99.A Ben Roethlisberger rookie card (Bowman, Score, Topps, or Topps Bazooka) will set you back $34.99. The Topps card is the coolest one, by the way.

25. A John Stallworth rookie card (1977) also costs $34.99. Lynn Swann's card isn't listed on the site; Beckett's Guide lists it at $18.

26. Former Steelers receiving coach Kenny Jackson on Ward's blocking: "Hines is like a pit bull. If he latches on to you, it's over. It's his makeup."

27. In 2001, Browns safety Earl Little boasted during the Steelers game that he was going to "kill" Ward. A few plays later, while blocking for a swing pass, Ward lowered his shoulder into Little and leveled him. Ward stood over Little and flexed his muscles. Browns cornerback Corey Fuller traded words with Ward. Fuller was flagged for taunting. Little left the field on a stretcher.

28. Here's what Ward had to say about the Little hit and what came next: "My emotions got to me as far as when the guy was down and standing over him, and I'm sorry for that — that's not me. But in the heat of battle, when somebody is talking trash to you, your emotions take over when you get a good hit like that."

29. Ward's first career 100-yard game came against the Jaguars in Week 10 of the 2001 season, one week after the Little block. Ward had nine catches for 112 yards and one touchdown. The Steelers won, 20-7.

30. In his first playoff game, Ward caught three passes for 37 yards and ran once for six yards in a 27-10 win over the Ravens. One of the receptions set up a one-yard touchdown run by Amos Zereoue. Ward further helped the Steelers' cause by recovering two fumbles. Both of the fumbles were forced by Ray Lewis.

31. Hines Ward has played his home games at Heinz Field since 2001. The H.J. Heinz Company doesn't actually make 57 products; it makes several thousand, from ketchup and relish to baby foods.

32. Heinz didn't start by making ketchup. The company's first product was horseradish. Today, it produces more than 1.4 billon bottles of ketchup every year. Heinz even makes banana ketchup for sale in the Philippines.

33. Ward caught six passes for 64 yards in his second playoff game, a 24-17 loss to the Patriots after the 2001 season. He was involved in two plays in that game which were reversed by instant replay. An incomplete pass to Ward early in the second quarter was initially ruled a 40-yard completion. In the third quarter, Ward lost control of the football after a 13-yard gain. Ty Law recovered the apparent fumble, but Ward was ruled down after reviewing the replay.

34. Ward had a remarkable stretch during the 2002 season. In Weeks 10, 11, and 12, Ward caught a total of 26 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

35. The Steelers faced the Browns in the 2002 playoffs. Two of Tommy Maddox's first three passes to Ward were intercepted by Daylon McCutcheon. One pick led to a Browns touchdown. The other led to a Steelers touchdown: the Browns punted three plays later, and Antwaan Randle El returned the punt 55 yards for a score.

36. Ward and Maddox would bounce back in that Browns game, connecting 11 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers trailed 33-21 with 5:30 to play in the game. Ward caught four passes for 34 yards in the Pittsburgh comeback, including a four-yard touchdown and a catch at the three-yard line to set up the winning score by Chris Fuamatu Ma'afala.

37. In his first meeting with the Seahawks (Week 3, 1999), Ward caught two passes for 18 yards.

38. In his last meeting with the Seahawks (Week 9, 2003), Ward caught eight passes for 56 yards and a touchdown and rushed three times for 14 yards.

39. Ward's touchdown in that Seahawks game cut Seattle's lead to 16-13. But Ward was flagged for taunting. The 15-yard penalty was enforced on the kickoff, and the short field made it easier for the Seahawks to score their next touchdown.

40. Ward drew the penalty and a $5000 fine when he spiked the ball at the feet of cornerback Ken Lucas after scoring in that game. "I'd rather hit the guy," Ward said later in the week. "At least it would be worth it."

41. Many people feel that Ward is underrated. In 2002, he made Jim Gigliotti's All Underrated team on NFL.com. A poll of Football Outsiders readers after the 2004 season ranked Ward as the seventh most underrated player in the NFL (Deion Branch topped the list). David J. Neal wrote an article in the Miami Herald this week about how little recognition Ward receives compared to other top receivers.

42. Mike Holley, author of Patriot Reign: Bill Belichick, the Coaches, and the Players Who Built a Champion, offered a different take in 2004: "Hines is so underrated now that he's overrated." Holley mentioned Derrick Mason as the most underrated player in the league.

43. Steelers quarterbacks have thrown 767 passes to Ward in the past five seasons. Ward is less of a target now than he was in 2002 and 2003, when Mike Mularkey was offensive coordinator and Tommy Maddox was quarterback. Ward was targeted 317 times in those two seasons. He has been thrown to 223 times in the past two seasons.

44. Ward's total DPAR over the past five seasons is 133.3. For new readers, that means that Ward has produced 133.3 more points for the Steelers offense than a typical backup receiver would produce. By comparison, Terrell Owens' DPAR for the last five years is 129.3, Randy Moss' DPAR is 130.5, Marvin Harrison's DPAR is 177.9, and Torry Holt's is 171.2.

45. Ward shared a 30-minute radio show with former Steelers punter Josh Miller before Miller left for New England. "I was the funny guy," Miller said of the show, "and he was Hines Ward."

46. Steelers players like to race radio controlled cars during down time at training camp. Many of them have custom-built R/C racers. Ward has an R/C Escalade with his name on the windshield. Yes, Jerome Bettis has a black-and-gold R/C bus.

47. In 2003, Ward tied a team record with 12 touchdown receptions. He shares the record with Louis Lipps and Buddy Dial.

48. Lipps, who tied the record in 1985, caught 358 passes for the Steelers from 1984 to 1991. He reached the Pro Bowl in his first two seasons but never lived up to early expectations. Dial set the record in 1961. He was a two-time Pro Bowl player who twice gained over 1,000 receiving yards in the early 1960's, He's a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, but he's best known to law students for his role in Dial vs. NFL Player Supplemental Disability Plan, in which Dial's ex-wife sued for half of the benefits awarded to Dial in the 1993 collective bargaining agreement.

49. Ward caught 18 passes on third down this season. Seventeen of them netted first downs. Last season, he was 17-of-20 on third downs. In 2003, he was 21-of-25.

50. Ward has made four two-point conversions in the regular season, three of them in 2002. In the 2002 playoffs, he completed a pass to Plaxico Burress for a two-point conversion.

51. A 2004 poll by CNN/SI ranked Hines Ward as the second "dirtiest" player in the NFL behind Rodney Harrison. A total of 354 current and former players were polled.

52. The video game Madden '06 gave Ward an overall rating of 94, sixth among NFL receivers. Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, and Chad Johnson all outranked him. (All rankings are for the "out of the box" version of the game with no updates).

53. In the same video game, Ward is ranked as the third strongest receiver (behind David Boston and Owens). He is ranked 10th in throwing power among receivers, behind numerous college quarterbacks like teammate Antwaan Randle El. He's the top rated run blocker among wide receivers in the game, with a rating of 65. That rating would actually place him 11th among tight ends.

54. During Ward's contract holdout this offseason, the monks of St. Vincent's Benedictine Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania appealed to God on Ward's behalf. St. Vincent's is the home of the Steelers training camp. "We are praying that there will be negotiations soon," Archabbot Douglas Nowicki said. "Hines Ward is an important part of the team, and he's a wonderful human being."

55. Teammate Joey Porter on Ward during his August holdout: "We can't win without him. He's worth whatever he's asking for." Ward's holdout was initially contentious, but he agreed to join the team shortly before the Steelers' first preseason game.

56. In this year's Wild Card game against the Bengals, Ward caught two passes for 10 yards and a touchdown. In 15 career games against the Bengals before that, he caught 75 passes for 974 yards and eight touchdowns.

57. Steelers fans hope that Ward plays up to the legacy of Swann in Super Bowl XL; Swann's 161 receiving yards and acrobatic catches made him the MVP of Super Bowl X (yes, it really has been thirty years). But how many fans remember the last Steelers player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl? That's right: Bam Morris in Super Bowl XXX.

The door to the Too Deep Zone is closing for a few months. Thanks for peeking in. See you in September.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 27 Jan 2006

89 comments, Last at 30 Jan 2006, 7:38pm by Tom

Comments

1
by tim (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:15am

the player that hines has become serves as a great example to the strength of the abstract qualities necessary for the game.

2
by Fnor (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:26am

Other fun Heinz fact: You used to be able to go on a tour of the facility and they'd give you a bit of canned beans in ketchup. Not sure if they make beans anymore.

3
by VandyJosh (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:30am

Ah, mike, I think Ward was drafted in 1998, not 88, Kevin Dyson was the WR, Andre is the DB. Good Article, although this article disrespects Jerome Bettis by not mentioning that his hometown is Detroit, or that the Bus will play his final game, or that Superbowl XL is ironic considering the hefty back, or that Bettis has parents. Yeah, total disrespect for Bettis

4
by budman (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:32am

3. Ward does not have an anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees as the result of a childhood bicycle accident.

I don't see how this is possible in combination of playing professional football. The ACL is what keeps the knew pretty much aligned for forward motion, running/stopping in particular (cutting would be the MCL).

He must have had a replacement somepoint in his life. If a QB would be rushed into surgery two days after blowing his ACL (Palmer), how would it be possible for a WR to play WITHOUT one?

5
by pawnking (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:36am

Very droll, with the "Hines 57" things about Ward. It is silly week, after all.

It never fails to facinate me how some of the greatest players ever were chosen in later rounds, or later in the high rounds. It's so much of a crapshoot, the NFL draft, with so much of the future of a player dependent on things that happen after college, like injury luck, determination by the player, the right coach, etc.

6
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:46am

Fnor (#2 )--

Heinz, does in fact, make beans. (At least, it puts beans into cans and sells them.)

Their vegetarian baked beans are flavored with some sort of tomato-ketchup-like-product, but still don't taste as good as Bush's vegetarian beans.

7
by Israel (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:09am

I read a couple of years ago that Buddy Dial is on dialysis and his family attributes it to football injuries.

My father is still mad about the trade that sent Buddy Dial to the Dallas Cowboys for the rights to talk to Texas tackle Scott Appleton, who everyone knew would sign with Houston of the AFL. My father has been dead for twenty-five years.

8
by Israel (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:14am

Fnor (#2) - When we used to go on tours of Heinz back in day camp, we got pins that looked like pickles. Back then when you said "Heinz" people thought pickles as often as ketchup.

9
by Thoreau (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:15am

In the UK and Ireland, Heinz is, in fact, synonymous with baked beans. Their most famous advertising slogan is "Heinz meanz beanz"

10
by Israel (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:17am

Sorry for the multiple posts.

I have heard that Hines was picked that late because of the ACL issue. Seems like others thought then what budman thinks now.

11
by SM (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:21am

The enduring popularity of Heinz baked beans here in the UK is mysterious.

Evidently not as well-liked across the Atlantic.

12
by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:33am

27. In 2001, Browns safety Earl Little boasted during the Steelers game that he was going to “kill� Ward. A few plays later, while blocking for a swing pass, Ward lowered his shoulder into Little and leveled him. Ward stood over Little and flexed his muscles. Browns cornerback Corey Fuller traded words with Ward. Fuller was flagged for taunting. Little left the field on a stretcher.
-------------------------

I just thought that was worth repeating.

13
by Rodafowa (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:36am

#9
In the UK and Ireland, Heinz is, in fact, synonymous with baked beans. Their most famous advertising slogan is “Heinz meanz beanz�

"Beanz meanz Heinz", isn't it?

So not that famous, then.

14
by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:37am

Everyone knows "Heinz Baked Beans" from The Who Sell Out, right?

15
by Israel (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:39am

Hines also took out Orpheus Roye who outweighs him by XXX lbs on someone's TD run. I think last year, so maybe it was Duce.

16
by Thoreau (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:45am

Re: 13

Ah well, we don't eat them chez nous, so I pretty much ignore the advertising. At least I got the spelling right....

17
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:55am

If I recall correctly, didn't Jimmy Hitchcock play without ACL's in either knee?

18
by D.B. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:55am

I think maybe item 48 should read "Ward’s total DPAR over the past five seasons...", not two seasons.

19
by D.B. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:56am

Sorry....item 44.

20
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:56am

#8 - my high school drama club had one of those pins. It was passed around to the person who complained the most during rehearsals, It was the Bitchy Pickle award. I only won it once.

Yeah, drama club too. My DLOA (defense-adjusted loserness above average) just keeps increasing.

21
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:57am

Nice piece Mike. As TDZ is going into cold storage until September, does that mean that the 'Strategy Minicamps' will be making a return?

Oh Heinz Beans are cool. So is their Tomato Ketchup. But not as a pizza topping.

22
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:00pm

Also, my wife desperately wants some green ketchup. I'm sure it was discontinues years ago, but that doesn't stop her from looking.

They made purple too IIRC.

23
by Vlad (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:15pm

Israel, that was a 20-yard Roethlisberger scramble, he went down before reaching the endzone, but the Bus punched it in from 5 yards.

Can we add to Hines' factoid book? He holds the record for most 'tip drill' pass catches followed by a safety blowing you up. The play where Champ fudged his intercepion, that was a carbon copy of a play against Baltimore on MNF, even to the point where Chad Williams smacked him up the same way Lynch did.

24
by JJ (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:37pm

I'll add another. Hines did movie reviews on the Bill Cowher show for at least one year (I think they were called Hines Sight), sponsored by Blockbuster. The reviews were hillarious, as it was clear Hines was reading cue cards the whole time.

25
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 12:57pm

Re: #22 -- They have Heinz Green Ketchup in stores here. Its in the upside down EZ Squirt bottles for kids. I'd gladly trade you if you could hunt me down some Heinz TACO sauce in a bottle (I can only find it in little packets, and those just get annoying). I'm not sure they even make it in a bottle, though. But if she's REALLY desperate... she could squeeze out a few hundred packets to fill a bottle for the trade, lol.

26
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 1:01pm

For the record, the Heinz 57 is 57 varieties of ketchup, which are mostly due to different recipies in different bottling plants

27
by TheWedge (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 1:11pm

RE: 26
Actually, no the 57 is for the 57 varieties of food products. Heinz himself made up the number way before the company had that many plants although he supposedly picked 57 just because he liked the number. See link.

28
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 1:54pm

Inre: Item 27, I really think there are a few more from the Random Chuck Norris facts (link in my name) that could apply to Hines.

29
by Craig B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 2:47pm

Where are the references to his recent antics? No TO impersonation or Ickey Woods impersonation being mentioned here, and no mention of his continuous taunting of the crowds when he's on the sideline? I think those are the moments when his true character (or lack thereof) shows through. Combine those with the spiking of the football at the feet of Ken Lucas and his comments afterward along with his complete lack of remorse over the Little hit.

30
by dfarrar777 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 3:20pm

#14: "moremusicmoremusicmoremusicmoremusic"...

Nice one.

31
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 3:42pm

Don't ever make meatloaf with green ketchup. Ever. Nobody wants to see green meat.

It's interesting that pundits like to mention how good of a blocker Hines is and how he "plays the right way" while they castigate the Chad Johnsons of the world for "showboating celebrations." Hines' celebrations are usually deliberate taunts that I think are usually worse than the stuff most football players come up with.

32
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 3:55pm

I am right with the comments in 31. It amazes me that Ward is always exempted from the prima donna WR label when he:
is a big trash talker and dirty player, as outlined in the article;
has hurt his team with taunting fouls (in addition to the one outlined in the article I can think of at least one other, against Cincy this year);
performs TD celebrations which are specifically designed to mock the opposition (eg, the 'wing flap' against Philly, or the 'Icky shuffle' against Cincinnati);
and, caused a training camp disruption by holding out and refusing to report, despite having an existing contract (when media types like Peter King heaped scorn on Terrell Owens for trying to re-do an existing contract).
And, just to end my outburst, a player who has been voted to 5 straight Pro Bowls is NOT under-rated, not by any sensible definition of the word.

33
by asg (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:10pm

I still want someone to explain how it is possible to play professional football, much less WR, without an ACL in one knee.

34
by Thoreau (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:20pm

#32

"And, just to end my outburst, a player who has been voted to 5 straight Pro Bowls is NOT under-rated, not by any sensible definition of the word."

I guess that doesn't apply to Ward, then, who was voted to 4 straight but was left out this year. ;)

Of course, you'll recognize the common denominator in the TD celebrations that "mock the opposition"; they mock TD celebrations that the day's opponents have performed in the past that "mock the opposition."

With resepct to Ward's holdout, it was not to re-negotiate the terms of his exsiting contract, per TO; rather, it was a desire for a contract extension given that 2005 was the last year of his exisiting contract. A ubtle nuance, perhaps, but it still seems clear that it is different to moaning in year 2 of a 7 year deal.

Perhaps the biggest differnce between Ward and the likes of TO and Randy Moss is that his team mates and his team's fans genuinely like him. No sideline or locker room rants about 'throw me the damn ball' per TO, Randy, or the Chad.

Ward has perhaps gotten to the point where he is, as alluded in the article, he is famous for not being famous. He probably is underrated amongst casual fans who doesn't factor opportunities into equation (per the Ward comment in PFP 2K5), but he is fully valued amongst cognoscenti. Indeed, one can barely read an article about Ward on this site without a reference to being 'Canton-bound' or a 'bust' (as in bronze, not as in Travis Taylor). I come second to no man in my appreciation of all things Ward, but you have to assume he puts together another 4 pro bowl-caliber seasons for Canton to be a likely destination, given the relative paucity of his counting stats.

35
by Craig B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:30pm

"Of course, you’ll recognize the common denominator in the TD celebrations that “mock the opposition�; they mock TD celebrations that the day’s opponents have performed in the past that “mock the opposition.�"
How is doing the Ickey Shuffle "mocking the opposition which mocks their opposition?" How is taunting the fans behind the bench in Cincinnati and Denver during the second half "mocking the opposition which mocks their opposition?" I also don't see how TO's (God forbid I stand up for something TO did) version of the wing flap is mocking the opposition. Out of the things Hines has used to mock the opposition, I don't see one that was used previously to "mock the opposition."

36
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:32pm

Castigate the Chad Johnsons of the world? Did I miss something? This entire season was a huge Chad Johnson love-in until he took a swing at his own coach at halftime of a playoff game. If Hines pops Whisenhunt in the chops at halftime of the Super Bowl, by all means lump him in with Chad.

On the holdout, anybody would agree that Hines was badly underpaid under his previous contract. It's not the same as the Owens situation, where he sulked after just one year of a deal that made him one of the best paid players in football. If the Ward situation was a distraction during camp, it didn't seem to have any effect on the team's preparedness at the start of the season.

On the celebrations, it's just a difference of opinion but I LIKE the celebrations that explicitly reference an opponent. And it's not just Steeler homerism. I thought it was hilarious when TO did the Ray Lewis dance last year. It's the Sharpie/cell phone/baby diaper stuff that I think is ridiculous.

37
by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:34pm

#29, 31, 32

while ward was ranked #2 in SIs "dirty player poll" consider the fact that he doesn't end up at the bottom of the pile and pull or poke people like you'd normally think of as dirty. i'd be willing to bet that the majority of those votes came from DBs that are just upset when he blocks them off the tv screen. DBs want to hit defenseless recievers and celebrate, they don't like it when THEY'RE the ones getting hit and mocked.

why should ward feel remorse for hitting earl little? he apologized for the taunting, as he should of, but there is nothing wrong with blocking the guy. the harder the better - don't apply double standards just because he plays WR and not safety.

frankly, his end zone taunts of other players are funny to me. owens, chad johnson, icky woods, etc are all players that go out of their way to draw attention to themselves. what's wrong with someone who thinks that's crass for mocking them for it? sports writers don't get upset about it because ward scores lots of touchdowns and hands the ball to the refs. every now and then he makes fun of some player with a head three sizes to big for their bodies.

sports writers also didn't go after ward for holding out for several reasons: he didn't go on ESPN every minute to talk about his poor starving family, he didn't make a spectacle of it, before he got his contract he came back to training camp as an act of good faith and, the most important one, HE WAS EXTREMELY UNDER PAID. i mean the guy was making a million a season as one of the most productive WR in the game. owens on the other hand had just signed a very large contract and then turned around and wanted more.

personally, the fact that the guy cried because he thought bettis was going to retire without a ring, smiles constantly during the game and never complains about not getting the ball enough is ample proof of his good character.

maybe i'm paranoid but i would suspect these attacks on ward's character have a lot more to do with the teams you root for then anything else. perhaps having ward score his fair share of TDs against your favorite teams hurts but just think how annoyed other fans feel when chad johnson or TO break out their latest choreographed dance routine.

38
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:36pm

Ummm...#31, I don't think Chad Johnson gets in trouble for the celebrations...I think he gets in trouble for sending defensive backfields Pepto, having a checklist and starting fights with the WR coach during halftime of a playoff game.

Ward is not TO. As has been pointed out, he was at the end of his contract (this year) and wanted to get things settled. The Steelers told him he would be a priority, and in the end they did the right thing. Bear in mind that Hines reported to training camp in order to negotiate, as the Steelers have a policy of non-negotiation with hold outs. He also didn't show up, dog it or practice on a separate field from the rest of the team.

I'm surprised about the allegations that Hines Ward is dirty. I have a feeling that it could be along the lines of "The Denver O-Line is Dirty", they're not dirty, they just play a little differently than most. I'm sure that some D-Backs and LBs that are lit up by a blocking receiver think the player is dirty, though he hasn't received fouls or fines for that.

The Earl Little hit, well that just speaks for itself. Little said he was going to kill Ward. Ward hit him cleanly (notice Ward wasn't penalized or ejected for the hit), I don't see a problem there. The lack of remorse you point to is contradicted by the subsequent fact #28. He admitted that he was sorry for taunting and standing over Earl Little and attempted to explain it. Should he be sorry for hitting the guy on a clean play?? A guy that said he was going to kill him??

39
by JayHak (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 4:56pm

"but he is fully valued amongst cognoscenti.

Thanks Thoreau, I learned a new word today.

Count me in as a Pats homer that loves me some Hines Ward. I'd love him in a NE jersey.

40
by Steve Z (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:15pm

Re: #39

A good test for a player:

1. Hate him but want him on your team.

2. Hate and don’t want him on your team.

41
by kachunk (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:18pm

I think a lot of the very good receivers play dirty. It's the grabbing and holding and subtle push-offs, I imagine. I know I've heard that about Tony Gonzalez (Chief's TE)--he's a very good player but he'll do whatever it takes to get open. I imagine it's pretty similar with Ward--he'll do whatever he can get away with to get open.

42
by Craig B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:19pm

#37
"why should ward feel remorse for hitting earl little?"

Okay, so maybe I was using the obsolete defintion (check dictionary.com - definitions actually do become obsolete) of the word, but most players check on the other player's health before celebrating a big hit like that. His teammate Kimo von Oelhoffen is a perfect example of how a player should act after injuring another player.

"maybe i’m paranoid but i would suspect these attacks on ward’s character have a lot more to do with the teams you root for then anything else."

That's funny. I am a Bengals' fan, but I also referred to things Hines Ward has done to the Browns, Eagles, and Broncos. I find the things he does childish at best (just like Chad Johnson's antics), but it isn't the antics that bother me. It is that the national media lets him get away with it. When TO mocked Ray Lewis, was he not ridiculed? So why doesn't Hines Ward get the same treatment?

The problem I have with Hines Ward is the free pass given to him by the media and his taunting of fans when his team is leading. This has happened at least twice this postseason. Both instants I know about were shown on CBS, and the announcers didn't even mention it. They were probably too busy telling us that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.

43
by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:24pm

Hines Ward did the movie review on Steelers Huddle with Josh Miller. I love Deshea Townsend on the show now with Hines, but Josh Miller was absolutely hilarious.

And for anyone thats familiar with the Huddle.....I have two things to say to you:

1. Keep it real.

2. Sprinkles or nuts?

44
by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:25pm

Every player on every team taunts the opposing fans when their team is winning.

Like for instance.......TJ Houshmanzadeh.

45
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:29pm

Jerome Bettis is from Detroit?

46
by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:41pm

#42

actually i recall owens got a lot of laughs from the media for mocking ray lewis. maybe my memory is fuzzy on that one but i know i was cracking up. of course, i'm no fan of ray ray so i might be biased.

no one, including ward, thinks that the taunting was called for. however, as was pointed out, little had already made it personal with his comments. if someone says, "i'm going to kill you" and you knock him flat, you aren't going to boast about it? in the heat of the moment? not the right move but a very understandable one.

in all honesty i have no idea what you are talking about with ward taunting the home crowd. i watched the same CBS telecasts and i don't remember anything. did you hear what he was saying or was he just yelling into the stands? not to be a ward apologist but there are a lot of steelers fans at away games, not to mention friends or family. how sure are you that he was taunting the home crowd?

47
by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 5:46pm

"When TO mocked Ray Lewis, was he not ridiculed?"

No, I don't think he was ridculed at all. It might have had something to do with the fact he was mocking Ray Lewis.

Kevin Dyson's career might have been shortened by injuries, but I think he still got his 15-minutes of NFL fame. Two words: "One yard."

48
by Jerry (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 6:39pm

I'd like to add that after Ward does whatever dancing he might (and resurrecting the Ickey Shuffle made me laugh), he'll go hand the ball to someone in the front row wearing a #86 Steeler jersey.

He is, as has been pointed out, one of those guys you absolutely love when he's on your team. I'm thrilled that he's likely to retire a Steeler.

49
by Joel D-P (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 8:18pm

Ah, who can forget pickle pins from the Heinz factory on the Northside. And by the way Ward held out because the team PROMISED him a new contract (or rather an extension) before training camp and then didn't deliver, I camped out in Ward's knee for three weeks last year and can personally attest that he has no ACL. The most important Ward factoid is that he and not Jerome Bettis is the most popular Steeler in PGH, this is demonstrated by the fact that it is Ward and not Bettis who is introduced last at home games (Bettis is next to last).

50
by Mr. T (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 9:10pm

#14:
Damn you! I was going to make a Chuck Norris reference. I was reading through all the comments just to see if anyone else had made the connection.

51
by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 9:11pm

Re: 33

Some people can get away without an ACL. Ever hear of old-time football players with "trick knees"? The trick was that they had torn their ACL and since it was before people really clearly understood what an ACL was for(and WAY before ACL reconstruction surgery was developed), they just called it a trick knee, and if they had enough stability to keep playing, they would.

From http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/indepth/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=14&topcategor...

After a complete ACL tear, some patients are unable to participate in cutting or pivoting-type sports, while others have instability during even normal activities such as walking. There are some rare individuals who can participate in sports without any symptoms of instability. This variability is related to the severity of the original knee injury as well as the physical demands of the patient.

52
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 9:11pm

Frankly, in a violent setting, once someone asserts that they are going to kill you, and you proceed render the person who made the assertion unable to get up without assistance, in a manner completely within the rules of that violent setting, a little taunting is not really that objectionable.

53
by Mr. T (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 9:12pm

Oops, I meant #28. Where the hell did I get 14?

54
by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 9:13pm

Re: 51

And yes, the fact that Hines Ward can play WR in modern professional football without an ACL does make him a bad-ass™.

55
by Craig B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 9:31pm

Somebody asked about Hines Ward taunting the crowd, and someone else made excuses for Hines saying that he might have been yelling to some Steelers fans. I can't remember which game it was, but Hines Ward was rubbing the area next to his eyes, implying that some fans were crying. That happened in either the Cincinnati or Denver game. I don't remember which one.

Just to get something straight, I'm not trying to single out Hines Ward. I'm just saying he deserves fair treatment. For the record, I'm happy yet mildly embarrassed when a Bengals' player does something good and then celebrates. That includes but is not limited to TJ Houshmandzadeh's constant berating of opponents (man just shut up already), Reggie Myles' cocky attitude (what do you have to be cocky about anyway?), and most of Chad Johnson's touchdown celebrations (his marriage proposal and Christmas celebrations were pretty good though). Hines Ward just happens to be the topic of the day.

56
by Craig B (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 9:59pm

Mike,

While I was lost in my incessant [redacted], I forgot to thank you for the article. It was a great idea, and I found out a lot about Hines Ward that isn't usually talked about (missing an ACL? interesting). One thing I wish was also included is some of his charity work, like his annual golf outing with Merril Hoge and Mark Bruener. Keep up the good work.

57
by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:19pm

Hines Ward may be the most popular Steeler right now, but thanks to Ryan Wilson that is very quickly changing.

NFL: Are you ready for Tyrone Carter?

If not, you better get ready.

58
by calig23 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:25pm

I thought it was hilarious when TO did the Ray Lewis dance last year.

Heh. I hate TO, but that was beautiful. Every player should mock Ray Ray when they play the Ravens.

And regarding Ward taunting the fans.... come on! Considering the things that those fans are likely yelling, who the hell cares if Ward or any player responds in kind?

59
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:31pm

47: Yeah, but everyone thinks that that was Eddie George. They tell me im and idiot and that Im wrong when I tell them it wasnt.

60
by calig23 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 10:34pm

Also, regarding Ward and his lack of an ACL, there are a couple of players who have played without an ACL. According to the article linked, both Thurman Thomas and Garrison Hearst played with only one ACL, and Jimmy Hitchcock amazingly played without either ACL.

61
by budman (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:30pm

Also, regarding Ward and his lack of an ACL, there are a couple of players who have played without an ACL. According to the article linked, both Thurman Thomas and Garrison Hearst played with only one ACL, and Jimmy Hitchcock amazingly played without either ACL.

{pissed} I couldn't even dribble a basketball up court without my knee painfully buckling at some point during an attempt to change direction after I blew my ACL.

I am amazed at this statoid in regards to Ward (No ACL) probably the most of any other in the history of statoids for me. I will be forever using this one over beers amongst friends.

62
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:38pm

Here's another fact:

Hines Ward has never been seen on the field not smiling. Ever.

63
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:46pm

I for one cannot for the life of me fathom why so many of us get so bitchy about football players celebrating good plays and ragging on each other. Someone please explain this to me. Terrell Owens running fifty yards downfield to pound the football into the Dallas star logo, that's absurd and way beyond the line of reasonable sportsmanship. But sheesh, when did taunting become a federal crime at least on a par with treason?

64
by dutch (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2006 - 11:50pm

don't forget about the hit ward placed on Rod Woodson when he was with the ravens. it was so bad, that Rod fired Hines who at the time prmoted Woodson's car dealerships in commercials.

65
by BrazilYinzer (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 1:22am

Thank you dutch. I'm just dying reading this list and finding my personal defining Hines Ward moment missing. I knew he was our man when Rod immediatly jumped up and started bitching about that hit.

66
by Doyle (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 2:44am

Hines Ward was 6th in the Madden ratings, but 31st in salary as compared to the likes of Ike Hilliard. Though you can question Madden Stats, you have to admit Ward is an elite receiver and grinds out 1st downs in key situations. He prevented a clear touchdown from Champ Bailey with a defensive tip. He comforts his young quaterback by being an extremely efficient target for red zone opportunites. He is not your prototypical Moss or TO and uses his possession skills and experience to excel, and his blocking abilites (mentioned ad nauseum) are key for a Steeler team that likes to run. Has anyone seen his drop a pass?

I apologize for my extended adulation for a 1/2 Korean wide redeiver playing for the Steelers. Don't forget Dat Nguyn representin the Far East on D.

67
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 8:10am

Thanks for the article on Jimmy Hitchcock, calig23. It says he blew out both ACLs in high school, and both times he skipped the surgery and kept playing because his parents didn't have health insurance. First of all, shouldn't high schools be required to insure the athletes? If I blow out my knee while doing something work-related, isn't my employer responsible for my medical costs? And secondly, if it's physically possible to play football a week after tearing an ACL, why don't more players do it? The only players at any level of football who I've ever heard of who skipped surgery and kept playing were Jimmy Hitchcock and Koy Detmer. Have others done it? Could Carson Palmer have done it if the Bengals had won?

68
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 11:27am

MDS, perhaps, if it's only the ACL that gets torn. Palmer tore just about everything there is to tear -- ACL, MCL, meniscus, the "terrible triad" as Will calls it, plus dislocated his knee. He won't be back until a good way into the 2006 season.

69
by DGL (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 12:27pm

Sounds like there's a topic for an offseason Black & Blue Report - ACL injuries, treatments, recovery times, and the variations thereof among individuals.

70
by Jim A (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 3:07pm

John Elway also apparently played most of his career with a torn ACL. I agree with DGL, I'd like to see Will Carroll investigate and explain why some players seem to be able to play right through torn ACLs.

71
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 5:45pm

First of all, shouldn’t high schools be required to insure the athletes?

No way. Sports is a voluntary thing. You go down this road of having to provide insurance for a voluntary activity, you might as well kiss public school sports good-bye for all but the wealthiest school districts. Public school sports is already under the gun just in terms of straight-up budget cuts. And now you want to add health insurance costs to that?

72
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 6:44pm

"now you want to add health insurance costs to that?"

Yes, I do. Schools have no business putting minors in dangerous situations if they're not prepared to provide for the care of those minors when they get hurt.

73
by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 6:50pm

Re #16.

Jammi German. Add #$#@!#@#! Jammi German, a player suspended for his last college season, to the list of receivers drafted before Hines Ward.

Thank you, Dan Reeves.

74
by Luke (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 8:09pm

Ward sounds like a wanker to me. Give me DJack anyday. He doesn't need to taunt people to be good. Nor would you find his name on a dirtiest players list. And dont tell me Ward is more underrated or a better reciever than Jackson.

75
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 10:18pm

Re:#74

On the other hand, at least the "dirty" Ward doesn't have a reputation for dropping passes...

76
by SJM (not verified) :: Sat, 01/28/2006 - 10:30pm

Re: 74 Ward vs Jackson
2005 season
Per play stats only (since Jackson was hurt a lot)

Hines Ward: DVOA 25.4% 6th among WRs
Catch Percentage: 61%

Darrel Jackson: DVOA 23.1% 8th among WRs
Catch Percentage: 69%

Hmm that's closer than I thought. I believe Jackson's career DVOA and catch percentage are far lower than Ward's, but I cannot access those stats easily.

77
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 1:32am

I agree that Darrell Jackson is a badly underrated receiver.

Still, if you could take one of the two in the old "game to save your life" scenario, I'd take Hines.

78
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 4:52am

re: 72
Schools don't put minors into those situations. Schools provide the opportunity for students to voluntarily participate in those situations.
A huge difference.

79
by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 5:03am

This article and ensuing comments are great. Can anyone imagine FO without the comment threads?

Who would have thought the best part of the FOX deal would be lots more interesting commenters? (As opposed to the Atlanta Flood and other annoying homers/trolls, but those stayed away from most of the discussion thread)

80
by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 8:00am

OK, schools shouldn't provide the opportunity for students to voluntarily participate in those situations without ensuring that they'll get medical treatment if injured.

81
by masocc (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 11:19am

Re: #80 -- Actually MDS, I don't think the honus here should fall on the schools, necessarily... if you ask *me* I think the US Government needs to find a way to provide medical coverage for EVERY child under 18. And once they have that in place, they can start figuring out how to provide assistance for the rest of us. And then the Lions will win the Superbowl.

82
by masocc (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 1:59pm

Michael Irvin just called Darrel Jackson a #2 receiver!? WTF? Talk about underrated. What did Irvin smoke before the show today?

83
by Thoreau (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 2:36pm

#82

Probably the same thing that Tom Jackson did in referring to the Steelers (-4) as "prohibitive favourties."

84
by Kachunk (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 2:41pm

MDS- I'm pretty sure most high schools require you to show proof of health insurance, plus undergo a physical before participating in sports. At least my high school did.

I imagine in places where football is a huge deal some kids manage to get around those requirements, but I think it's at least required in theory.

85
by masocc (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 3:32pm

Re #84 -- Nope. Not in Washington state, at least. No insurance required, or given. Though they do give you a physical... if your definition of physical consists of having a doctor check your weight and give you the old turn and cough. I guess they're only concerned about students participating in sports with a hernia...

86
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 9:02pm

For all of you who don't like "taunting", I need to know whether you have or currently play any sports.

Just as after the cell phone situation, everyone that I've spoken to who plays a contact sport has made the same comment: You don't want someone to show you up, don't let them score. If they do so, next time they touch the ball, you let them know that you don't appreciate their conduct. I approve of Woodson's reaction to TO's standing on the star, but he could have done better by not letting him score in the first place or by knocking his teeth out in the course of the game.

Pretty simple.

I like Ward primarily because of his work ethic. A WR who blocks is not dirty; he's doing his [redacted] job. Sure, if he were chop blocking all over the place, I'd have a problem with him, but that's not what's going on.

As for taunting the fans? Who the eff cares what a player says to fans? Seriously. Think about what you guys are saying. Anyone who can't handle a player RESPONDING to the crap that he hears from you needs to go home to mommy and whine to her.

Sorry for the attitude, but some of the Ward griping here reeks of whining and crying.

87
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 3:32pm

OK, schools shouldn’t provide the opportunity for students to voluntarily participate in those situations without ensuring that they’ll get medical treatment if injured.

Well, at least you're consistent.

88
by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 4:00pm

Where did this idea that Ward is dirty because he blocks comes from? Straw Man.

It takes more than a few DBs for someone to be voted #2 on a "dirtiest player" list. If that kind of block voting was taking place then D-Linemen would be at the top because the five O-Linemen on a given team would be voting for the dirtiest D-Lineman they could think of.

I'm not saying Ward is any worse than other players, I'm just pointing out that many players are accused of being selfish and egotistical for doing the same things as Ward. I guess as long as you do one good thing, all the bad things are seen as being "in the spirit of the game." I think Ward is a great receiver, I'm just not ready to put him on this pedestal of football purity.

89
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 7:38pm

As a Titans fan, thanks a whole friggin' lot for reminding me that they drafted Kevin Dyson, who'll always be most famous for NOT scoring a touchdown, over Randy Moss. Well, at least it wasn't Marcus Nash.