Daily Archives: March 20, 2012

Steelers’ Hines Ward Retires

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At a 12:00 ET press conference today Hines Ward said he was giving Steeler Nation the one last gift it wanted, and he announced that he would retire as a Steeler.

Ward has been one of the most visible and well-loved faces of the Steelers for over a decade. At least, he is well-loved among Steeler fans. Keith Rivers, the LB pursuing Hines in the photo, probably doesn't love Hines all that much. Nor do a lot of fans of other teams. But the picture says it all. Hines loved to play. He loved to play whether he was blocking for a running back or taking a big hit over the middle or leaping into the end zone.

But Ward brought more than a love for the game. His career statistics, combined with the ways he has changed the game of football, will make him almost a certainty for Hall of Fame consideration. He is the receiver with the 8th highest number of catches, (1000), the 13th most TD catches (85), and the 18th most receiving yards (12,083). He accumulated these numbers while on a team who, during at least the first half of his career, was a run-first team. He has 2 Super Bowl rings, was named the MVP of Super Bowl XL, and was named to the Pro Bowl four times.

And he doesn't have just receiving stats. During his career he recorded 22 tackles, 428 rushing yards on 57 attempts for a 7.5 Yd/Attempt average, and has a 50% completion rate as a passer, which isn't much worse than some QBs we won't name at the moment.

Ward's longevity in the league was legendary. According to the NFL Players Association, the average career of an NFL wide receiver is 2.81. Hines Ward's career was five times the average, or 14 seasons. During those 14 seasons he missed a total of 7 regular-season games, or about 3%. For a man who didn't shy away from contact, that is an astonishing statistic.

But Father Time has a way of catching up with everyone eventually, and Hines was no exception. It is a great pity he couldn't have announced his retirement at the Super Bowl in which the Steelers garnered their seventh trophy, but make no mistake, Hines Ward went out a champion.




Source: Behind the Steel Curtain


Marcus Gilbert Nearly Back To 100% Following Shoulder Surgery


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Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert reported Tuesday evening on Twitter that his surgically repaired shoulder is almost back to 100%. In his tweet Gilbert said specifically, "Great field work today! Almost back to full speed with my shoulder! Couple of more weeks" Gilbert had surgery on what is believed to be his right shoulder on January 25th, which is nearly two months ago.

Great field work today! Almost back to full speed with my shoulder! Couple of more weeks— Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88) March 20, 2012

Gilbert started 13 games as a rookie in 2012 at right tackle after he was Read more [...]

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Hines Ward retires from Steelers. What he left with & passed on.

Last week, we ran a story that detailed the sale of former Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward Atlanta mansion.
Today, it was announced that Ward has retired. After his release from the team earlier this year, Ward vowed to fight on and find another club.
We have no word on how much interest he did or did not generate but the fact is that he is hanging up his cleats.
Please click the link to read the rest of this retrospective story. 

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Ed Bouchette’s Instant Hines Ward Analysis

PITTSBURGH ((3-7 The Fan) – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette checks in with Vinnie & Cook on Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan.

Ed looks at Hines Ward’s overall place in Steeler history, and stacks him up favorably with Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. He also takes a look at Ward’s chances of making it into Canton, and looks at the future of the Steelers receiving corps.

He also tells if Rashard Mendenhall’s days as a Steeler may be done.

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers, Watch + Listen Tagged: Ed Bouchette, Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rashard Mendenhall, Vinnie & Cook

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers


Memorable Steelers Games: Steelers Beat Baltimore (Colts) in the Playoffs

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BTSC writers are collaborating on a series highlighting their favorite memories involving Steelers games. Whether these are wins or losses, in this decade or the last, Steelers games mean something different to everyone. Here is an installment in that series. - nc

Unless you are a season ticket holder, and perhaps even if you are, attending a Steelers playoff game can be a pretty special event. I consider myself fortunate to be able to count as one of my life memories a divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Colts in 1976.

The opportunity was a surprise on a number of different levels. First of all, no one was expecting the Steelers to make the playoffs that year. Most had written them off after a horrendous 1-4 start and the loss of quarterback Terry Bradshaw for most of the year after Cleveland Brown defensive end Joe ‘Turkey’ Jones had driven Bradshaw’s head into the ground like a tent stake in an early season game. Rallying behind what many consider one of the great sustained defensive performances of all time and 1,000 yard rushing performances from both Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, Pittsburgh managed to crawl back into the playoff picture.

The circumstances of the team’s comeback had a particular benefit for me as well. I had been living in Philadelphia since the beginning of the 1970s and had watched the Steelers dynasty from afar. Earlier that year my brother had gotten married to a woman from Baltimore. And while he had since moved to California, I remained closely connected to my sister in law’s family. The game was to be played in Baltimore, so I called to determine if it were possible to obtain tickets to the game. I wasn’t optimistic. After all, this was a playoff game. So, you can imagine my surprise when the response to my request was; no problem. There are plenty of tickets available. How many do you need?

On a mild, sunny, Sunday morning, I made the two hour drive down I-95 to Baltimore with a friend and my fiancé. We met with four in laws at their parent’s house and then walked a mile or so to old Memorial Stadium to take in the game. To this day I have no idea why there was no greater interest among Baltimore fans. It was a great match up, at least on paper. The Colts had a solid team led by quarterback Bert Jones, like Bradshaw a brash, Louisiana kid. The Steelers were the two time defending Super Bowl Champs. As it turned out the stadium was full that day, but largely because of a phenomena that we are all familiar with today. At least a quarter of the crowd and probably more were Steelers fans.

Our seats were near the 50 yard line directly behind the Colts’ bench. So close, in fact, that we had to stand throughout the game just to see over the heads of the players at the action on the field. The perspective was one I had never experienced before and it deeply enriched how I viewed and understood the game.

Pittsburgh received the opening kickoff, run back by Rocky who was crushed and injured by the Colts’ coverage unit. Although we weren’t close enough to hear exactly what they were saying, it was clear that the Colts bench was taunting the Steelers, laughing at them. As the Steelers medical staff was ministering to Bleier, the offensive line took the field; Jon Kolb, Sam Davis, Mike Webster. I could see their faces as the glared at the Colts bench. As the old saying goes, if looks could kill. The Colts were feisty, certain that a tone had been set that would result in their dominance this afternoon.

The Steelers broke the huddle and lined up for their first play. Everyone in the stadium, and I suspect, watching on national television knew what was coming next. Steeler football. Franco to the right, or Franco up the middle, or Franco to the left, right? What actually happened seemed like a scene from a bad football movie. Bradshaw gave a play action fake and set up to pass. Although football is generally speaking, a very telegenic game, there are certain advantages to watching a game at the stadium. You can often see a play unfold in a manner that the restricted focus of a television set does not reveal. And what was unfolding at that moment in Memorial Stadium caused Colts fans to gasp in horror as Steelers fans watched in giddy disbelief. Wide receiver Frank Lewis was fleeing down the near sideline at least ten yards beyond the nearest Colt defender. Lewis was the Mike Wallace of his day; the Grambling wide out was the fastest player on the team. This is why it seemed like something out of a bad football movie, because in real life nobody ever gets that open. Bradshaw lofted a perfect pass that caught Lewis in stride. At that point it looked like a touch football game played in the backyard when you catch a pass over your eight year old cousin. Lewis, who could not have been caught if he had just a step on a defender, romped to the end zone, rotating the ball around his waist in celebration every step of the way. The competitive phase of the game was over.

However, the Steelers were in no way finished with punishing the Colts. Someone once described watching the 70s Steel Curtain defense like being at the circus when the bears were loose. The Pittsburgh front four of Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, Joe Greene and L C Greenwood were clearly intent on killing Bert Jones. I could hear them being egged on and encouraged from the Steeler bench across the way as they overwhelmed the Baltimore offensive line. The only reason that Jones survived is that he was a mobile quarterback who, though sacked and hit often, managed to avoid the ‘kill’ shots that the Steeler pass rusher were seeking to deliver. Meanwhile, back on offense, Franco was rushing for 150 yards…in the first half. They shouldn’t have messed with Rocky.

Baltimore was taking a beating in the stands as well. I don’t consider myself much of a smack talker, but I was talking smack that day; as was every other Steelers fan that I could see. The bulk of the Steelers fan contingent was located in the baseball bleachers. They were making a constant celebratory din. I don’t think I would have behaved that way if I have been in Cleveland, and certainly not in Philadelphia. But there was a pathetic passivity that characterized the Colts fans. And there was absolutely no fear on the part of the Pittsburgh fans. I usually associate playoff games as tense sort of white knuckle affairs for the most part. The stakes are so high and the games are often close throughout. But this was a butt whippin’ from the get go; the type of game you wish for but normally never get, sixty minutes of almost pure enjoyment. My fiancé who was not born in America became a Steelers fan that day. My friend who was a Philadelphian developed a secondary allegiance to Pittsburgh as well.

The final score was 41-14, and believe me the game was not nearly that close. In fact, I’m at a loss to remember how the Colts managed those two touchdowns. I am one of those who believe that this particular Steelers team was the greatest that the franchise has ever fielded. How could that be if they never earned a Lombardi? In spite of the absolute dominance exhibited in this game, the seeds of tragedy were sown that afternoon. Late in the game, Franco would suffer a rib injury. We were unaware then, but neither Franco nor Rocky would be available for the conference championship game the following week. With a backfield consisting of Bradshaw and Frenchy Fuqua, Pittsburgh would fall to the Raiders in Oakland, ending their season.

Is tragic too strong a term? A little context might help. As difficult as it might be to believe, the defending world champs went into the playoffs being viewed as a Cinderella team, so amazing and heroic was their comeback during the season. They were on the brink of being the first team to win three Super Bowls and to do so consecutively. But, not only did they lose, they lost to the Raiders.

Let me explain something to younger readers or to those who are relatively new to following this team. We have some pretty potent rivalries that are ongoing. I dislike the Ravens. I dislike the Patriots. And I don’t have much use for the Ohio teams. But in the 70s the operative word for the Oakland Raiders was HATE. The rivalry was relatively short lived, but incredibly intense and meaningful. Both teams were highly talented, breathtakingly mean and wore black as their primary colors. Doesn’t that pretty much describe Steelers/Ravens you ask? With due respect, no. Sure, there are mean folks and rough play associated with Steelers/Ravens; Ray Lewis and James Harrison (or Joey Porter), Terrell Suggs and Hines Ward. But the Raiders had Jack Tatum, a strong safety who paralyzed a man (New England WR Darryl Stingley) in a preseason game and was pretty much unapologetic for having done so. On the Pittsburgh side, in spite of the well deserved reputations for belligerence earned by the likes of Joe Greene and Jack Lambert, the most genuinely feared player was defensive tackle Ernie Holmes who once shot and wounded an Ohio State Trooper with a high powered rifle. The actions and rhetoric exchanged was such that members of the two organizations eventually ended up in court.

Nor was this just about a bunch of bullies brawling in some back alley. For five consecutive years these two teams met in the playoffs beginning with the Immaculate Reception Game. In three of those five games the winner went on to be World Champion. The only good thing about this was the fact that the two communities were separated by thousands of miles, therefore civilian casualties were kept to a minimum.

A final note on the Colt playoff game. It was around sunset when we started walking back from the stadium. After walking a couple of blocks we had to dodge fire engines rushing back toward the stadium. This being in the pre cell phone era, we were unaware of what transpired until we were able to get in front of a television set some time later. A small airplane crashed into the upper deck of Memorial Stadium not long after the conclusion of the game. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain


Ward: I wouldn’t change it for the world


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With the passing of time comes change. It’s inevitable. Some may fear change but no one can avoid it. Change can come suddenly and have an immediate impact, or it can happen gradually over the long...

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News

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Steelers plan Hines Ward press conference


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The Pittsburgh Steelers have announced a press conference today with their all-time leading receiver, Hines Ward. Presumably, the announcement will be that Ward is retiring from the NFL. Although there’s no official word on the 36-year-old Ward’s retirement, it’s hard to think of any other reason that Ward would be making any type of announcement.…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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San Francisco Making the Right Gamble with QB Peyton Manning


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The San Francisco 49ers were just a few plays away from Super Bowl XLVI.

Despite having a solid season, QB Alex Smith was unable to make those plays. It's not as if the team didn't believe he could, after the former No. 1 overall pick had the best season of his career.

They showed they didn't believe in him when they allowed him to play into the final year of his contract. They showed it even more when they drafted Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback from Nevada, in the second round of the 2011 Draft.

And they're showing it now, balking at extensions for Smith, and pursuing the top free agent prize, QB Peyton Manning.

It's not a bad idea, either.

To blame Smith for San Francisco's NFC Championship game loss is a bit misguided (put it on a fluky return game). If they had won, he wouldn't rightly have deserved the credit either. That pretty much summarizes Smith, even at his best. Not the reason they lose, but not so much the reason they win, either.

San Francisco has the best coached defense in the league, and multiple players among the best at their defensive positions. This team will win a lot of games next season with how good their defense is.

But what it needs is a bit more offensive firepower. WR Michael Crabtree is poised to become a high-end producer, and if WR Randy Moss is legitimately back to his 4.3 self, and a strong-armed quarterback slinging the rock down the field, their offense becomes at least solid.

Putting a solid offense behind an elite defense usually fares well for teams in the NFL.

Manning is re-living his college recruiting days, having narrowed down his choice of employers to three - Denver, Tennessee and San Francisco.

All three are tempting options. He's got another great defense in Denver, and Tennessee is literally offering him partial ownership in the team upon his retirement. San Francisco is clearly the Win Now option, and with that, the largest obstacle he'd have to face.

Manning is a control freak. So is head coach Jim Harbaugh. Manning runs his own offense. Harbaugh took San Francisco from an also-ran to a dominant force in his first season. It's pretty likely both men feel their way works.

If it meshes together, they're looking at a 13 win season, at worst.

San Francisco, at the very least, appears to be doing more than just their due diligence on Manning. They have not yet given Smith an extension, and after Smith's reported 5.5 hour long meeting with Miami Sunday, at least appear to be in a position to lose out on a starting quarterback, and would be forced to turn to Kaepernick next year.

Does that mean they're going all-in after Manning? If they did, and Smith walks, a year or two with Manning under center, priming the stage for Kaepernick's eventual ascent to the position makes a lot of sense. They had to have at least considered the 2011 season as the likely end of the Smith Regime in the Bay Area, otherwise, Smith would have an extension, and it's unlikely they would have spent such a high draft pick on a quarterback.

If Manning is healthy, though, he couldn't have been released at a better time for the 49ers. If he wants to win, he'll sign with San Francisco. If he wants to control everything (literally), he'll go to Tennessee. If he wants to get paid the most, Denver's probably the best option.

Which one will it be? Who knows?

I can't link this story because I have no clue where I read it, but I remember a feature on Manning from a long time ago. The piece of the story was focusing on Manning's decision of which college he'd choose. His mom said he came into his parents room very early in the morning, told them he was up all night thinking about it, and decided to choose Tennessee. It wasn't the decision, the writer noted, it's the fact he deliberated for so long and with such intensity.

Tennessee was somewhat of a surprise, considering his father's star power at Ole Miss (where his brother Eli eventually attended). The point was Peyton makes his own mind, and he doesn't lead on to his intentions.

Anyone's guess is as good as anyone else's, but I think he'll go to San Francisco.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Former Colts quarterback Manning chooses Denver

The Broncos and Peyton Manning agent Tom Condon worked out parameters of a deal expected to be worth about $ 95 million over five years.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Report: Healthy Mendenhall unlikely

The Steelers do not expect running back Rashard Mendenhall to be fully recovered until the 2013 NFL season as he continues to mend following a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Monday, citing sources.

The 2012 season will be the final year of his contract, and it is reportedly possible Mendenhall has had his last carry with the team.

The sources said that if Mendenhall does return next season, the Steelers do not expect him to perform at the level he was at before he succumbed to the injury, while playing against the Browns in their last game of the 2011 regular season.

Despite the concern, the team is still unlikely to re-sign free agent Mewelde Moore, according to the report. That would likely leave the team with Isaac Redman as its starter. Redman, a fourth-year player, has started only one NFL game and has 726 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 163 career carries.

Mendenhall finished with 928 rushing yards and nine touchdowns last season.

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