INDIANAPOLIS — Hines Ward doesn't recognize the Pittsburgh Steelers as he sees them today, about a year after leaving the franchise. He also doesn't like what he's hearing.
Ward told the NFL Network on Friday that the Steelers are in “total disarray” in their locker room and that the current chatter there wouldn't have gone on when he was there.
In recent days, there has been speculation about LaMarr Woodley's supposed weight problems, which even Steelers coaches talked about months ago, and wide receiver Antonio Brown said there was a rift between players who are concerned about team goals and other who were more focused on individual goals. Ryan Clark also mention a possible fracture in the locker room.
Ward, who holds the Steelers career receptions record, suggested the losing team leaders — he didn't mention them, but they included Ward, James Farrior and Aaron Smith — has hurt the Steelers internal chemistry.
“When you lose so much leadership in the locker room that is where things present itself like that,” Ward said. “Guys start finger pointing, calling out other guys. That's not the Steeler way. We always had a rule: We are a band of brothers. We've always collectively kept everything in-house. But there was no finger pointing and calling out each other. That's total disarray, a locker room in disarray.”
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Thursday there was no such rift, saying he and coach Mike Tomlin closely monitor such things.
Ward also said he regretted having a Ray Lewis-like farewell tour with the Steelers. Ward began the 2011 season as a starter, lost his job midway through the season and by the end was a only a complementary player. The Steelers chose not to bring him back for 2012 and he joined NBC as a Sunday night game analyst.
That's the whole thing about it,” Ward said. “I'm a little disappointed I didn't get the opportunity to run around and congratulate the fans and really just thank them for so many great years. I always wanted that. … I always thought I could play football for another season, if I had been healthy.”