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View Full Version : Cook: It's time to realize Steelers owe Ward nothing.



skyhawk
02-15-2012, 10:18 PM
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12045/1210001-87.stm

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
With a Hall of Fame-worthy resume, is it time for HInes Ward to retire?

View all related images

If it has been said once, it has been said hundreds of times. The Steelers owe Hines Ward. They owe him a job. They owe him an immediate answer about his future. They owe him respect, as if they always haven't given it to him.

I can't say this strongly enough.

The Steelers owe Ward nothing.

Ward gave the team 14 terrific years, a Hall of Fame career that guarantees him a prominent spot in Steelers lore. The team paid him countless millions. Neither side owes the other anything.

You might not like reading this, but it's true:

There is no room in pro sports for sentimentality or loyalty, not when so much money is at stake and the pressure to win is so great.

Unfortunately, Ward's inevitable parting from the Steelers looks as if it will be awkward with hurt feelings for Ward. It happens fairly often in sports. An aging star player thinks he has game left and wants to come back for one more season. The team thinks the player is finished and wants to go in a different direction. How can that story not have an awkward ending?

Ward hasn't helped the situation by being so public about his hopes of playing with the Steelers next season. Most recently, he used his Facebook page Saturday to say he would do just about anything for one more year here, including restructuring his contract and, presumably, taking minimum pay for a veteran player. There is nothing wrong with sharing those thoughts with management, which Ward did after the season with Steelers president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin. But to do it publicly? It's just so unseemly. It makes Ward look as if he's begging for a job. That's sad.

If Ward thinks he can turn up the pressure on management to bring him back, he's badly mistaken.

The Steelers can't and won't be dissuaded by public sentiment, which figures to be mostly on Ward's side because of his significant contributions to the team over the years. If they bring him back, it will be because they think he still can help them, not because of media and fan pressure. No sports management team should ever make a decision based on such pressure. It has to do what's right for its organization even if the decision is unpopular. If the Steelers decide Ward no longer can play, they have to release him. It won't be personal. It will be business.

Ward has been around long enough to know the difference. He held out of training camp in 2005 to get a new contract. That, also, wasn't personal. It was business.

It works both ways in sports.

Of course, that doesn't mean Ward's ego won't be bruised if the Steelers sever ties with him in the next few days or weeks.

The NFL Network reported over the weekend that Ward won't be back next season. Steelers sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette that a final decision about Ward's future hasn't been made, a position that general manager Kevin Colbert reiterated Monday. I believe both reports. The team still is looking at its roster makeup with an open mind, but Ward almost certainly won't be back.

Based on the limited number of plays the Steelers gave Ward during the second half of last season, it's apparent Tomlin doesn't think he still can play at a high level. It was all the team could do to get Ward his 1,000th catch. He needed 10 with four regular-season games left and still needed five in the final game against the Cleveland Browns. No. 1,000 finally came on a fourth-quarter shovel pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that lost 3 yards.

And some actually are saying the Steelers haven't shown Ward the proper respect? Getting him that 1,000th catch even when it wasn't strategically prudent in a 13-9 win is the ultimate sign of respect. The team fulfilled its final obligation to him that day.

That shovel pass made Ward just the eighth player in NFL history with 1,000 catches. Put that magical number with just about every major receiving record in Steelers history, his ability as one of the greatest blocking wide receivers of all time and his three appearances in Super Bowls, which resulted in two wins for his team and the MVP award of Super Bowl XL. That's Hall of Fame-worthy, no doubt about it. All of us have been lucky to watch him.

But we're talking about today, not the past. The Steelers are committed to their three young wide receivers -- Mike Wallace, team MVP Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Ward will be no better than No. 4 on the depth chart if the team somehow decides to bring him back. The fourth wide receiver has to be able to play special teams. Ward isn't going to do that.

But, clearly, Ward wants to keep playing. If the Steelers cut him, he isn't likely to retire unless no other team wants him. You might not like seeing him in another uniform -- just as you didn't like seeing Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Mike Webster in other uniforms -- but so what? It's not your career. It's Ward's. He has to do what is right for him if he's released.

Just as the Steelers have to do what is right for the team.

Chadman
02-15-2012, 11:00 PM
Starting to think more-and-more in this fashion....Ward is really, well, done...as a player. His role in any team is now as a mentor, and let's face it, with cap pressure the way it is- the Steelers may not be able to afford to carry a mentor on the roster.

Ward won't improve the passing game. He won't even HELP the passing game more than another player- outside of maybe Limas Sweed.

In other words- a rookie could do the job Ward would be required to do.

Possibly better than Ward can.

It's a sad fact, one of our favourites is past his best.

But it's time to tap the shoulder.

hawaiiansteel
02-16-2012, 12:14 AM
unfortunately for Hines, when you are the team's 4th WR you are expected to help out on special teams which is something Hines doesn't do.

having said that, Hines will always be one of my all-time favorite Pittsburgh Steelers.

sorry Crash...

http://www.6magazineonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/HinesWard640x481.jpg

SteelerGold1
02-21-2012, 04:39 PM
[quote="skyhawk"]http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12045/1210001-87.stm

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
With a Hall of Fame-worthy resume, is it time for HInes Ward to retire?

View all related images

If it has been said once, it has been said hundreds of times. The Steelers owe Hines Ward. They owe him a job. They owe him an immediate answer about his future. They owe him respect, as if they always haven't given it to him.

I can't say this strongly enough.

The Steelers owe Ward nothing.

================================================== ============

How dare you, Ward is a Living Legend here, the same as, Joe Green, Jack Ham, Bradshaw, etc etc etc. Wash your mouth out with Steeler Soap, then prepared to be Flogged. :evil:

flippy
02-21-2012, 06:23 PM
I bet Ward would play ST if we seriously asked him to. And I bet he'd love trying to kill somebody.

Just a question - was Ward fully healthy last season?

RuthlessBurgher
02-21-2012, 07:54 PM
I bet Ward would play ST if we seriously asked him to. And I bet he'd love trying to kill somebody.

Just a question - was Ward fully healthy last season?

Prior to the 2011 season, he had thumb surgery after Dancing with the Stars ended. And after the 2011 ended, he had surgery to repair bone fragments in his ankle.

steelz09
02-21-2012, 09:13 PM
I completely disagree w/ Cook.

Ward has contributed a huge amount to the Steelers off the field. Many times, the Steelers brought in WRs to compete against him .... and each time he was a professional and mentored the youngsters. That includes Holmes, Burress, Brown, Sanders, Wallace, etc.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-22-2012, 09:13 AM
I completely disagree w/ Cook.

Ward has contributed a huge amount to the Steelers off the field. Many times, the Steelers brought in WRs to compete against him .... and each time he was a professional and mentored the youngsters. That includes Holmes, Burress, Brown, Sanders, Wallace, etc.

Let's not ignite another argument but I am curious how you would answer two questions.

If it was your money and you were the owner under the same circumstances...What would you do with Ward?

The second part would be...When is it time for you to tell Ward it is time to go?

I'm thinking if I could see your answers to this I may be able to better understand your thought process.

Shawn
02-22-2012, 09:22 AM
The Steelers more than any team I know hang onto aging vets a "little too long". Hampton, Ward, Farrior, Smith just to name a few. I believe they do this...not because they feel they owe them but because the young guys are not ready. They do so because they bring an attitude of winning into a locker room. They show the young guys how to be professionals. Without that you are the Bengals. If the Steelers bring Ward back it will be because they feel the young guys can still use a veteran WR presence on the roster. For vet minimum, that is not a horrible thing.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-22-2012, 09:41 AM
The Steelers more than any team I know hang onto aging vets a "little too long". Hampton, Ward, Farrior, Smith just to name a few. I believe they do this...not because they feel they owe them but because the young guys are not ready. They do so because they bring an attitude of winning into a locker room. They show the young guys how to be professionals. Without that you are the Bengals. If the Steelers bring Ward back it will be because they feel the young guys can still use a veteran WR presence on the roster. For vet minimum, that is not a horrible thing.

This current group was left intact for a SB run for '10 & '11. There vet leadership definately was an asset with all the young bodies that remained because of good drafting. They will all be three years in now with the exception of Heyward but Keisel will still be around. Only position I'm concerned with is ILB and I think they will hold on to one of Foote or Farrior. Time to pass the torch.

I'm ok with Ward coming back after a pay cut to vet min plus his $610,000 bonus. The bigger question is...Is Hines Ok with that? We will see how that plays out.

Shawn
02-22-2012, 10:16 AM
The Steelers more than any team I know hang onto aging vets a "little too long". Hampton, Ward, Farrior, Smith just to name a few. I believe they do this...not because they feel they owe them but because the young guys are not ready. They do so because they bring an attitude of winning into a locker room. They show the young guys how to be professionals. Without that you are the Bengals. If the Steelers bring Ward back it will be because they feel the young guys can still use a veteran WR presence on the roster. For vet minimum, that is not a horrible thing.

This current group was left intact for a SB run for '10 & '11. There vet leadership definately was an asset with all the young bodies that remained because of good drafting. They will all be three years in now with the exception of Heyward but Keisel will still be around. Only position I'm concerned with is ILB and I think they will hold on to one of Foote or Farrior. Time to pass the torch.

I'm ok with Ward coming back after a pay cut to vet min plus his $610,000 bonus. The bigger question is...Is Hines Ok with that? We will see how that plays out.

I do believe there is value in keeping some vets who know how to win and be professionals on a roster...even after significant decline in play. It promotes continuity. It passes on values and professionalism. With that said, we shouldn't mistake it for sentimentality. It's not about a warm fuzzy feeling. It's about keeping the Steeler way intact...passing it from one generation of players to the next.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-22-2012, 11:12 AM
The Steelers more than any team I know hang onto aging vets a "little too long". Hampton, Ward, Farrior, Smith just to name a few. I believe they do this...not because they feel they owe them but because the young guys are not ready. They do so because they bring an attitude of winning into a locker room. They show the young guys how to be professionals. Without that you are the Bengals. If the Steelers bring Ward back it will be because they feel the young guys can still use a veteran WR presence on the roster. For vet minimum, that is not a horrible thing.

This current group was left intact for a SB run for '10 & '11. There vet leadership definately was an asset with all the young bodies that remained because of good drafting. They will all be three years in now with the exception of Heyward but Keisel will still be around. Only position I'm concerned with is ILB and I think they will hold on to one of Foote or Farrior. Time to pass the torch.

I'm ok with Ward coming back after a pay cut to vet min plus his $610,000 bonus. The bigger question is...Is Hines Ok with that? We will see how that plays out.

I do believe there is value in keeping some vets who know how to win and be professionals on a roster...even after significant decline in play. It promotes continuity. It passes on values and professionalism. With that said, we shouldn't mistake it for sentimentality. It's not about a warm fuzzy feeling. It's about keeping the Steeler way intact...passing it from one generation of players to the next.

I agree with your reasoning about keeping them. But when lack of production clearly exceeds the cap number and retaining them hinders the ability to get a player in place to groom for the future...It is time to move on. The Steelers are at a crossroads where holding on to a vet player who is a shell of his former self not only hurts them financially but also will impact the competitive status of the team in the near future.

There are 24 players right now over 29. With the exception of BB, Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark, Brett Keisel, & James Harrison...They could move on with little to no impact on production. That is 7 out of the 24. They only place I see there may be a problem is at ILB. Hold on to Foote for one more year and that will be ok. Come 2013, Harrison, Keisel, and Clark will be under the same evaluation. It is just the business part of the game that we all let our personal feelings get in the way of.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
02-22-2012, 11:35 AM
I think that it can be done - sending an aging vet riding off into the sunset while not being disrespectful. Hines does deserve a certain amount of respect, and to retain all dignity as a Steelers legend, but that does not mean that we have to keep him on the roster when he is obviously beyond his ability to give us value.

Simply bring him n and meet with him face-to-face. Inform him of the intentions and let him know that in whichever direction he goes, he will always have a place in Steeler lore. I would offer him a position and tell him that we'd love to have him hanging around with our youngsters and letting that attitude of his rub off. However, as things stand today, there is we are unable to lock a roster spot up for him - even at a reduced price.

Shawn
02-22-2012, 12:02 PM
JPN, I agree with you. I do believe there is a time when expense, and the need to move to the young talent outweighs the benefit of keeping an aging vet. I believe this season will prove to be that year. I do not believe Ward will be a Steeler next season.

pick6
02-22-2012, 12:22 PM
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12045/1210001-87.stm

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
With a Hall of Fame-worthy resume, is it time for HInes Ward to retire?

View all related images

If it has been said once, it has been said hundreds of times. The Steelers owe Hines Ward. They owe him a job. They owe him an immediate answer about his future. They owe him respect, as if they always haven't given it to him.

I can't say this strongly enough.

The Steelers owe Ward nothing.

Ward gave the team 14 terrific years, a Hall of Fame career that guarantees him a prominent spot in Steelers lore. The team paid him countless millions. Neither side owes the other anything.

You might not like reading this, but it's true:

There is no room in pro sports for sentimentality or loyalty, not when so much money is at stake and the pressure to win is so great.

Unfortunately, Ward's inevitable parting from the Steelers looks as if it will be awkward with hurt feelings for Ward. It happens fairly often in sports. An aging star player thinks he has game left and wants to come back for one more season. The team thinks the player is finished and wants to go in a different direction. How can that story not have an awkward ending?

Ward hasn't helped the situation by being so public about his hopes of playing with the Steelers next season. Most recently, he used his Facebook page Saturday to say he would do just about anything for one more year here, including restructuring his contract and, presumably, taking minimum pay for a veteran player. There is nothing wrong with sharing those thoughts with management, which Ward did after the season with Steelers president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin. But to do it publicly? It's just so unseemly. It makes Ward look as if he's begging for a job. That's sad.

If Ward thinks he can turn up the pressure on management to bring him back, he's badly mistaken.

The Steelers can't and won't be dissuaded by public sentiment, which figures to be mostly on Ward's side because of his significant contributions to the team over the years. If they bring him back, it will be because they think he still can help them, not because of media and fan pressure. No sports management team should ever make a decision based on such pressure. It has to do what's right for its organization even if the decision is unpopular. If the Steelers decide Ward no longer can play, they have to release him. It won't be personal. It will be business.

Ward has been around long enough to know the difference. He held out of training camp in 2005 to get a new contract. That, also, wasn't personal. It was business.

It works both ways in sports.

Of course, that doesn't mean Ward's ego won't be bruised if the Steelers sever ties with him in the next few days or weeks.

The NFL Network reported over the weekend that Ward won't be back next season. Steelers sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette that a final decision about Ward's future hasn't been made, a position that general manager Kevin Colbert reiterated Monday. I believe both reports. The team still is looking at its roster makeup with an open mind, but Ward almost certainly won't be back.

Based on the limited number of plays the Steelers gave Ward during the second half of last season, it's apparent Tomlin doesn't think he still can play at a high level. It was all the team could do to get Ward his 1,000th catch. He needed 10 with four regular-season games left and still needed five in the final game against the Cleveland Browns. No. 1,000 finally came on a fourth-quarter shovel pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that lost 3 yards.

And some actually are saying the Steelers haven't shown Ward the proper respect? Getting him that 1,000th catch even when it wasn't strategically prudent in a 13-9 win is the ultimate sign of respect. The team fulfilled its final obligation to him that day.

That shovel pass made Ward just the eighth player in NFL history with 1,000 catches. Put that magical number with just about every major receiving record in Steelers history, his ability as one of the greatest blocking wide receivers of all time and his three appearances in Super Bowls, which resulted in two wins for his team and the MVP award of Super Bowl XL. That's Hall of Fame-worthy, no doubt about it. All of us have been lucky to watch him.

But we're talking about today, not the past. The Steelers are committed to their three young wide receivers -- Mike Wallace, team MVP Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Ward will be no better than No. 4 on the depth chart if the team somehow decides to bring him back. The fourth wide receiver has to be able to play special teams. Ward isn't going to do that.

But, clearly, Ward wants to keep playing. If the Steelers cut him, he isn't likely to retire unless no other team wants him. You might not like seeing him in another uniform -- just as you didn't like seeing Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Mike Webster in other uniforms -- but so what? It's not your career. It's Ward's. He has to do what is right for him if he's released.

Just as the Steelers have to do what is right for the team.


This is a time honored tradition of inherently dishonest people, namely to preface an argument on a false statement. I don't hear anyone on this board or any other saying that the Steelers owe Hines. This is what dishonest people do to win people over to there side. Say something inflammatory about the Steelers owing Hines then connect that ridiculous thought to the more legitimate question of whether or not he should be able to stay one more year. So then people will answer the false idea of the Steelers owing Hines with a "No" at the same time as the answer should he stay with a "No".

I deal with professional liars everyday who attempt to use this lowly method. Don't fall for it Steeler Nation. We all love Hines, I know. But we will differ as to whether or not its time for him to go. That's fine. But please don't use this "we don't owe him" crap as a part of how you view the issue.

BDESteel
02-22-2012, 12:33 PM
Did Ward's skills fall off, or did BA just make a poor decision in keeping him out?

I didn't see a lot to be hopeful for from our young receivers. Wallace fell off at the end of the season, and no one else outside of Brown was impressive. There were several instances in the red zone when we could've used Ward, yet he sat on the bench looking sad and dejected.

I think he still has a lot to contribute to this team and with Haley as the OC we can expect to see his experience help the team where it's weak.

For the league minimum, the knowledge and toughness Ward brings to the game far outweighs the value of his contract.

AngryAsian
02-22-2012, 12:33 PM
Hines is my 2nd favorite Steeler of all time, next to Jack Lambert. Sad to say that Hines really needs to hang it up. His production has dropped off dramatically and is a shadow of his formal self. His claim to fame of being the hardest hitting WR to ever play the game is well deserved but hardly true over the past 2 seasons. Can't hold onto a 4th WR with such little contribution and we needn't bring up the lack of durability as of late, which has been the hallmark of his career. It will be sad, but this will go like Franco's departure.

steelz09
02-22-2012, 01:12 PM
I completely disagree w/ Cook.

Ward has contributed a huge amount to the Steelers off the field. Many times, the Steelers brought in WRs to compete against him .... and each time he was a professional and mentored the youngsters. That includes Holmes, Burress, Brown, Sanders, Wallace, etc.

Let's not ignite another argument but I am curious how you would answer two questions.

If it was your money and you were the owner under the same circumstances...What would you do with Ward?

The second part would be...When is it time for you to tell Ward it is time to go?

I'm thinking if I could see your answers to this I may be able to better understand your thought process.

If it was my money, I would try my hardest to keep Ward near the 1.x million #. If he wants 2, 3, or the 4 million for next year then you have to make the wise business decision and let him walk.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-22-2012, 01:31 PM
I completely disagree w/ Cook.

Ward has contributed a huge amount to the Steelers off the field. Many times, the Steelers brought in WRs to compete against him .... and each time he was a professional and mentored the youngsters. That includes Holmes, Burress, Brown, Sanders, Wallace, etc.

Let's not ignite another argument but I am curious how you would answer two questions.

If it was your money and you were the owner under the same circumstances...What would you do with Ward?

The second part would be...When is it time for you to tell Ward it is time to go?

I'm thinking if I could see your answers to this I may be able to better understand your thought process.

If it was my money, I would try my hardest to keep Ward near the 1.x million #. If he wants 2, 3, or the 4 million for next year then you have to make the wise business decision and let him walk.
Ok...I am the same. I feel it will be up to Ward if he wants to be here in 2012. I believe the will give him the option so many of us are talking about.

Shawn
02-22-2012, 02:02 PM
Did Ward's skills fall off, or did BA just make a poor decision in keeping him out?

I didn't see a lot to be hopeful for from our young receivers. Wallace fell off at the end of the season, and no one else outside of Brown was impressive. There were several instances in the red zone when we could've used Ward, yet he sat on the bench looking sad and dejected.

I think he still has a lot to contribute to this team and with Haley as the OC we can expect to see his experience help the team where it's weak.

For the league minimum, the knowledge and toughness Ward brings to the game far outweighs the value of his contract.

I don't know if I could disagree with an opinion more. Ward looked like he was running with cement bricks on his feet. He was dropping many balls that he would have caught 3 years ago. The young WRs look spectacular. Wallace got shut down at the end of the year because teams geared up to stop him. That is a good reason why Brown was so successful. Cotchery was strong, Sanders showed flashes. I believe we have a top 3 talented WR core in the NFL.

BDESteel
02-23-2012, 12:43 PM
Did Ward's skills fall off, or did BA just make a poor decision in keeping him out?

I didn't see a lot to be hopeful for from our young receivers. Wallace fell off at the end of the season, and no one else outside of Brown was impressive. There were several instances in the red zone when we could've used Ward, yet he sat on the bench looking sad and dejected.

I think he still has a lot to contribute to this team and with Haley as the OC we can expect to see his experience help the team where it's weak.

For the league minimum, the knowledge and toughness Ward brings to the game far outweighs the value of his contract.

I don't know if I could disagree with an opinion more. Ward looked like he was running with cement bricks on his feet. He was dropping many balls that he would have caught 3 years ago. The young WRs look spectacular. Wallace got shut down at the end of the year because teams geared up to stop him. That is a good reason why Brown was so successful. Cotchery was strong, Sanders showed flashes. I believe we have a top 3 talented WR core in the NFL.
Shawn do you live in the Burgh? I ask because I didn't see enough of Ward from television to form a good opinion on his ability to get open. I just find it hard to believe that on crossing routes he couldn't. Ward didn't drop as many balls as Wallace did and we're thinking about paying him almost 30 mill.

My biggest point is, our young receivers are still unpolished and I'm afraid without the veteran leadership Ward gives, these those guys are gonna find themselves on the wrong end of being punked.