Hines Ward announced his retirement yesterday. The city of Pittsburgh immediately embraced him for retiring as a Pittsburgh Steeler. I however did not, and what follows is my reasoning for simultaneously acknowledging that Hines Ward was a great football player, but also a tremendous piece of shit.
Right off the bat, I know Yinzers will be defensive. The man played in Pittsburgh for 14 years, and was one of the greatest Steelers of all time. He will go down as the best blocking wide-receiver in NFL history. He has two Super Bowl rings, and was a Super Bowl MVP. If somebody gave me a ballot for the Hall of Fame, I’d vote Hines in, despite guys like Cris Carter and Tim Brown still waiting on a call from Canton.
My problem with Hines Ward is not professional – it’s personal.
Let’s start with the easy stuff. Hines Ward was married for most of his time in Pittsburgh. That never stopped him from constantly gallivanting around the city with various college girls who were not, in fact, his wife. Listen, I’ve NEVER been an advocate for the institution of marriage but there are some people who might find a millionaire rolling up to a house full of Duquesne cheerleaders in his black Escalade while his wife and child are at home a bit off-putting.
Then of course, his recent DUI arrest. Hey, we’ve all probably gotten behind the wheel of a car when we shouldn’t. Most of us don’t make several million dollars a year where getting car/limo/driver service would really be that big of a deal. Good life choice, Hines.
Here is the real heart of my disdain – because quite frankly if I was honest I’d probably be the same piece of shit Hines was if I had a Bentley and a ton of money:
He didn’t want to retire a Steeler.
In fact, he tried NOT to retire a Steeler.
Anyone remember 2005 when Hines Ward held out of camp? “I’m not trying to break the bank, I just want compensated”. Class act, huh?
He pretended like he wanted to stay here, and restructure his deal, but he wasn’t taking the veteran minimum to be the fifth receiver on the 2012 Steeler team. The ownership knew he was done, and tried to get Hines to bow out gracefully. Hines instead went on his Facebook and wrote about how HE wanted to stay and how he felt bad that he was being “forced” to leave Pittsburgh.
You want to know how he SHOULD have handled things? Aaron Smith took out a full-page ad in the paper just to say thank you to the fans for his time in Pittsburgh. He rode off into the sunset with his pride, dignity, and the respect of Steeler Nation.
…But not Hines. Hines kicked and screamed out the door a month ago when he got cut. He tested the free-agent market, planning to continue playing in the NFL. When the rest of the league told him the same thing that the Steelers did, “Dude, you are an old, slow possession receiver who doesn’t play special teams and has nothing left in the tank. Hang em up, brother.” he finally saw the writing on the wall.
And then… He wanted to retire a Steeler.
This town is way too forgiving of athletes who turn their backs on us. I remember the “JagrWatch” before Jaromir Jagr AGAIN fucked over the city of Pittsburgh and signed with Philly after being courted by Mario coming into this hockey season. We wanted to take him back. We wanted to believe that he had changed, and he missed us – even after all of the shit that he talked about Pittsburgh after he left.
Everyone keeps calling Hines Ward a “class act”. Can anyone tell me WHY this guy has class?
At least the Pens are the greatest fucking hockey team on the planet in the history of hockey right now. Yes, they ARE that good.
But Hines… Hines tried to walk out on us. When he found out nobody else wanted him, he decided to stay. He decided to do the right thing. He decided to let us take him back… And we did.
Shame on you, Steeler Nation, and shame on you Hines. You could have gone out with class, and you didn’t.