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PSU_dropout43
02-05-2010, 02:24 AM
Ward finds February is for dogs this year
by Ed Bouchette

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- In one year, Hines Ward has gone from the Super Bowl to the Dog Bowl, and it's as much reality as it is a state of mind for him.

The Steelers' standout wide receiver agreed to judge Dog Bowl 2010 Thursday in Miami along with a radio "personality" named DJ Eddie-E and a dog trainer. They were to pick the MVP (Most Valuable Pooch) from the 75 dogs demonstrating a range of football tricks including a touchdown celebration dance.

Ward gave his best why-did-I-do-this response to the difference from one year to the next.

"Oh, man, it definitely stinks, to be honest," Ward said in a low tone.

He does not even own a dog, but these are dog days for him and his teammates who failed to make the NFL playoffs to defend their Super Bowl XLIII title. Instead, Ward and friends gathered in South Beach the other night, and their long faces might have given them away.

Linebacker James Farrior has a place on South Beach, as does former teammate Jerome Bettis. Ex-Steeler Joey Porter lives in South Florida as well. The popular yet disturbing topic among them was the team's five-game losing streak.

"It was discouraging to lose to Cleveland, Oakland and Kansas City," Ward said. "That leaves you scratching your head. The other day at dinner, we reflected on that and everyone was scratching their heads: How in the world did we lose those games?"

Ward, who lives in Atlanta, said he left Pittsburgh right after the season because he had to get away from football, and even said he "heard" there were some changes on the coaching staff.

"I got as far away as I could from Pittsburgh," he said. "It's been a long year. We started off 6-2 and I just knew we had our chances. It's still upsetting to me."

He said he did not know what went into any of the coaching changes, but he was not surprised at reports that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went to bat for Bruce Arians to help save his job as offensive coordinator.

"You know, it's Ben's team," Ward said. "I think he has some insight into who he wants to have and if he felt comfortable with B.A. ... You have to build your team around him; I don't think you want a disgruntled quarterback who is not comfortable in the system. B.A.'s going to be there; he'll call the plays and we have to perform."

Experiencing the Super Bowl hoopla this time of year -- a good stretch of South Beach was closed off for a big party Tuesday night -- reminded Ward just how much he misses it.

"Being that it was a year ago, I understand how great it is." the 12-year veteran said. "I've been blessed to win two Super Bowls. For me, chances are very slim now to get many more because I'm in the latter part of my career. I'd love to make another run at it and come back and take part in another Super Bowl."

Did the Steelers move further away from returning after last season?

"Know what? I don't think so," said Ward. "We were close and then went through that five-game losing streak. I think we learned a lot about each other individually and as a team. We have to stay the course and not overreact. We finished strong in the last three games. We were a playoff team, we just were not playing good football. We beat Green Bay, Baltimore and Minnesota; that's something you can take from it."

However, they have players such as nose tackle Casey Hampton, safety Ryan Clark, kicker Jeff Reed, running back Willie Parker and defensive back Deshea Townsend who will become unrestricted free agents next month, as will others such as backup quarterback Charlie Batch and defensive end Travis Kirschke.

"I don't know who we'll bring back," said Ward. "There are a lot of veteran guys with great leadership in the locker room who might not be there next year. You wonder where guys will end up."

Ward hopes the Steelers find a way to keep their prime free agents, Hampton, Clark and Reed.

"Those guys are locker room favorites. Everyone likes them," said Ward. "I'd like to see them all come back. In this business, guys come and go and try to get as much money as they can. You can't knock them for that. That's the business side of the profession in the offseason.

"Those are three quality guys. Ryan is an emotional guy, Casey's the heart and soul of our defense and Jeff Reed is one of our captains and there are not many kickers as efficient as Jeff."

Ward also did not take linebacker James Harrison's comment that some players were selfish in 2009 as necessarily a bad thing.

"I know we had guys coming out on contract years who wanted to finish strong," said Ward. "Maybe James was talking in that sense, guys playing for contracts next year. Actually, I like guys coming up on their last year. It makes them do what they can to have a great year to have leverage going in."

With that, Ward begged off the interview. He had to get back to the dogs.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10036/10 ... z0edk7VvqG (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10036/1033706-66.stm#ixzz0edk7VvqG)

stlrz d
02-05-2010, 09:36 AM
Despite a 1000 yard season it sounds like Ward isn't exactly thrilled with BA either.

Just another reason why he's a fan favorite. :D

RuthlessBurgher
02-05-2010, 01:12 PM
"It was discouraging to lose to Cleveland, Oakland and Kansas City," Ward said. "That leaves you scratching your head. The other day at dinner, we reflected on that and everyone was scratching their heads: How in the world did we lose those games?"

Those games were lost because of such an "how in the world could we possibly lose to dreg teams like this?" attitude from many players on this team.

I've heard this same sentiment from more than one player on the team. Fans can talk like this, but players cannot have this viewpoint that certain teams are inherently inferior to them, because that viewpoint leads to them being taken lightly. They have to treat the Browns, Raiders, and Chiefs just like they treated the Vikings, Packers, and Chargers. They are all legit NFL teams with legit NFL players, and they all must be given the same respect, or teams below you in the standings can very easily come up and bite you in the butt when you least expect it. If anything, I hope they learned that lesson this past season.

Iron Shiek
02-05-2010, 01:40 PM
AKA breeding an aura of laziness throughout the team. That is very disappointing actually.

Slapstick
02-05-2010, 01:46 PM
I think you guys took that the wrong way...

Hines and the others are VERY aware that those were winnable games...they didn't lose because of complacency...they lost because of poor execution on both offense and defense...they lost because they did not make plays at critical junctures of those games as they did so often in 2008...

They fell like they prepared and played as well as they played in 2008, but didn't get the same results...you mean, you guys weren't scratching your respective heads?

RuthlessBurgher
02-05-2010, 02:11 PM
I think you guys took that the wrong way...

Hines and the others are VERY aware that those were winnable games...they didn't lose because of complacency...they lost because of poor execution on both offense and defense...they lost because they did not make plays at critical junctures of those games as they did so often in 2008...

They fell like they prepared and played as well as they played in 2008, but didn't get the same results...you mean, you guys weren't scratching your respective heads?

I don't hear players necessarily lamenting losses to the Bengals, Ravens, and Bears, though. It sounds like they were surprised that teams like the Raiders, Chiefs, and Browns were able to defeat the mighty Super Bowl champion Steelers. They can't be surprised by that. How well you have played in the weeks, months, and years prior and how poorly your opponent has played in the weeks, months, and years prior are irrelevant when you face off against each other. They are NFL teams, and any NFL team can be any other NFL team "on any given Sunday" particularly if you come into a game with any sort of mindset that your opponent is beneath you.