In defense of Hines Ward

I am going to defend Hines Ward today.

Why? Easy. Because I love the way he plays the game, for starters, and I love that veteran players with Super Bowl rings still do the little things to win.

Now, let’s cut to the chase when it comes to Ward. He is labeled as a dirty player, right? Why? Because he delivers blows—ones that are cleans hits? Come on, I’m not buying that for a second, and you have to admit that you would love to have the guy on your team.

Think about it when you watch the games this Sunday. Most wide receivers in the league look like a dog stuck in the corner of the pool when they block somebody. They use their hands and, basically, shadow a receiver—which is a nice way of saying they get in front of someone in hopes that he doesn’t run right through them to make the play.

Ward, well, this guy goes after players, and in a league that is built on violence, I am wondering why he’s labeled as a cheap shot artist.

This morning, our own Aaron Wilson talked about how Ward believes that the league is targeting him. I don’t blame him because he most likely is after the hit he put on Cincy’s Keith River’s last year—a hit that was clean and no different than the hits we see every Sunday on special teams.

How many times have you seen a coverage man on a punt completely blasted trying to make a tackle by a player who comes around from the blindside? The coverage man is laid out, waked up in a fog. Yet the crowd loves it, it is replayed countless times on TV and then we get back to the game.

But, when Ward does it, people consider it cheap? No chance.

This guy is just playing football, and, if anything should be given extra credit because he isn’t a No.1 receiver anymore thanks to the emergence of Santonio Holmes in Pittsburgh. Yet, he still blocks versus the run and is still feared by defensive players when he comes in that short motion from outside the numbers—because he isn’t coming in to seal you off, he is coming in to block.

Sure, fans outside of Pittsburgh will think that I am blowing smoke, but I can tell you that when I played, players respected Ward because he didn’t slow down, and he came after defensive players.

Why wouldn’t you want a guy like that on your team?

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