View Full Version : Hines Ward will block his way into the Hall of Fame

03-21-2012, 02:00 AM
Hines Ward will block his way into the Hall of Fame
By MJD | Shutdown Corner

Getty ImagesAs a wide receiver, Hines Ward was very good. As a blocker at the wide receiver position, Ward was the best and most dangerous in the history of the NFL. Figuring out how to balance those two things will be at the heart of the "Is Hines Ward a Hall of Famer?" debate five years from now. Let's get a jump on it.

More with Ward than most, the numbers are insufficient to make a judgment. If we're grading on statistics alone, Ward is probably a ticket buyer in Canton, not an enshrinee.

The contemporaries to whom Ward is most similar statistically (thanks to Pro Football Reference) are Derrick Mason, Keenan McCardell and Keyshawn Johnson. Fine players, but there's probably not a Hall of Famer in that bunch. There are two others with similar stats who do own pale yellow blazers ‒ Charley Taylor and Lance Alworth ‒ but it's fruitless to compare them to Ward, as the era was so different.

Which leaves a couple of other factors for Ward. What of the blocking? Is it a big enough factor to vault him into the Hall? What about the Super Bowl MVP? What about the fact that Ward was never among the best three or four receivers in the league?

I'm throwing out the Super Bowl MVP. I don't care about that. The biggest play Ward made in that game was on a gimmick play on which he was uncovered. It was an ugly game and they had to give the MVP to someone. If we're putting people in the Hall for winning the Super Bowl MVP, Dexter Jackson and Desmond Howard would like to have a word with someone.

The blocking is the thing. If you can be a top-10 receiver in the league and add so much to your team's running game, that's a difference maker. That's what separates Hines Ward from other guys with big numbers who are on the outside looking in. It's a perfectly legitimate argument. He added something to his team that other receivers just did not.

But even with his blocking exploits, at any time during Hines Ward's career did you ever look at him and think, "That guy's the best in the game"? Earlier in his career, Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens or Randy Moss would've been taken before Ward. Later, it was guys like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson. The Hall of Fame is for the elite, right? Was Ward ever that?

It's going to be a really tough call when the time comes ‒ especially considering some of the receivers, like Cris Carter, who have been left out in the cold recently. Ultimately, though, I think Ward will get in ‒ not on the first ballot, but at some point. The guys who vote on this just adore things like "playing the game the way it's supposed to be played," and being "gritty" or "hard-nosed" or "old school." Ridiculous little clichés or not, they are kind of true of Ward, and things like that tend to excite voters. He'll be held up as an example of how the game was played before we put all the sissified new rules into it.

I believe he'll be in eventually, and I'll support the decision. If you're on the fence, pay attention over the next five years and let me know if you see any other receiver out there as good as Ward who also blocked like Ward.

03-21-2012, 08:57 AM
I agree with most of this article. But it's not just blocking. It's the whole persona. There is no tougher wide receiver than Hines Ward. It's not just that he delivered effective blocks his entire career. It's that he relished the opportunity. He delivered PUNISHING blocks. And on top of that, he not only dished out punishment, he also took it like a man. How many times did we see him go across the middle and get DESTROYED, hold on to the ball, and then get up with a big smile. THAT is Hines Ward.

Teams called him dirty but that is complete BS. Hines created a new role for his position that enabled his team to be more successful. He turned the tables on the defense. How can any defense call him dirty when he simply did to them what they did to receivers on a regular basis?

Hines got into the heads of everyone on the defense before he even stepped on the field! And then he backed it up on the field. They called it dirty because they didn't like it. Boo hoo. Hines took every bit of punishment that came his way and never complained. He dared a defense to get him when they put bounties on his head. This had to be embarassing and extremely frustrating to a defense.

I think Hines will eventually get into the HOF. And not because he was a "blocking receiver". It will be because he was the most unique, complete receiver and football player the game has ever seen.

03-21-2012, 09:12 AM
I agree that the SB MVP award was not clearly his, but he was key nontheless. In fact, many of the recent SB MVP awards were not legit IMO.

03-21-2012, 08:26 PM
Report: Crocker happy 'dirty' Ward gone

Updated Mar 21, 2012 12:30 PM ET


Cincinnati Bengals safety Chris Crocker suggested he and several other players were happy to see the back of Hines Ward after the decorated former Steelers wideout announced his retirement.

A tearful Ward called time on his career Tuesday following his release by Pittsburgh after 14 seasons.

He departs as the franchise's leader with 1,000 catches — which ranks eighth on the NFL's all-time list — 12,083 receiving yards, 85 receiving touchdowns and 29 100-yard receiving games.

Crocker said Ward was deserving of the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his achievements but added that he could not forgive his "dirty" play on the field.

"He tried to end people's careers, and that's not the way the game is supposed to be played," Crocker told Bengals.com.

Ward broke Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers' jaw with a brutal blindside block in 2008. A year later, Crocker said Ward punched him in the face during a game.

"Stuff like that, it's just not right," Crocker said. "And I'm not the only guy that thinks it."