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Thread: Ward has milestones within his reach

      
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    Default Ward has milestones within his reach

    Ward has milestones within his reach
    Saturday, August 21, 2010
    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Hines Ward will add another notch to a belt chock full of them, throw another statistical log onto his personal pile when the Steelers play at 7 p.m. today at the New York Giants.

    New Meadowlands Stadium will become the 36th different NFL field in which Ward has appeared since he joined the Steelers in 1998, counting the preseason. Add non-NFL stadiums in preseason games at Canton, Ohio, Morgantown, W.Va., and Mexico City and it swells to 39.

    [IMGL]http://i33.tinypic.com/3531f20.jpg[/IMGL]"Those are a lot of stadiums," Ward noted as his 13th training camp with the Steelers drew to a close. "It's just a big honor. That was a little personal milestone, just to be able to play in this league for this long and to play in all the different stadiums, especially the NFC, where every four years we switch. There aren't many people who can say they played in every stadium."

    Here is another thing few can say: They caught 1,000 passes in the NFL.

    Six receivers in NFL history have 1,000 pass receptions. Ward has 895, which ranks 12th all time. Of the 11 in front of him, only two played fewer than 13 seasons, Randy Moss (also entering his 13th) and Torry Holt, 11.

    Ward needs 105 receptions to join one of the most exclusive clubs in the NFL. Logic would say it will not happen this season because he's 34 and his starting quarterback cannot play for at least the first four games of the season. But he did catch 95 passes last season when he was 33, tying his second-most productive season after his team-record 112 in 2002.

    "Only six guys in history have caught 1,000 balls. What an amazing record that would be," Ward said.

    Most things about Ward have been amazing since he entered the league as the Steelers second pick in the third round in 1998 (after they took Jeremy Staat in the second and Chris Conrad with their first third-round pick). He had no true position after playing quarterback, running back and receiver at Georgia and he was missing the ACL in his left knee.

    Yet 12 years later, he can move up to No. 2 among those who have played the most games in Steelers history. He ranks fifth at 186 games and can surpass Donnie Shell (No. 2 with 201) this season to trail only Mike Webster's 220.

    That is a record as near and dear to him as any, including leading the team in receptions in each of the past 10 seasons. He knows his career is drawing near an end but he's not ready to concede season No. 13 will be it. John Stallworth played 14 with the Steelers. Jerry Rice played 20, Tim Brown 17, Cris Carter, Isaac Bruce, Andre Reed and Art Monk all 16. And as Ward will be the first to tell you, he has never had the speed to lose a step.

    He is not among the pretty-boy receivers; he's as physical a player as has come down the NFL receiver pike, playing on a team that preferred to run during most of his stay, playing most of the time in outdoor stadiums in the north and catching passes from nine different quarterbacks (not the luxury of, say, playing with Peyton Manning indoors your entire career). Yet he missed no games in the past two seasons and only six in his career, including 14 playoff games. The same cannot be said for many of those he has blocked.

    "I did a lot of reflection last year," Ward said. "All these years and all this stuff. I've seen so many wide receivers, so many of them, and so talented and how I'm still here and they're not."

    He has never had a major injury. He credits coaches Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin with easing his practice load. He no longer practices on Wednesdays and he has had an easy training camp.

    "People always ask me how long do you want to play? I don't know, as long as I can continue to be productive. The way coach Tomlin has taken care of me, he's not going to grind me in training camp. I feel good. Actually, my weight's down, I'm more toned, more fit.

    "Usually, when we break camp and we start to get back on the South Side and practice once a day and get back in the mix of things, it's lot easier for me to do that. As long as I'm still playing, it's year to year for me. I don't know when I'm going to retire. I still get enjoyment coming out here to practice. The way my mindset is, I can only play one way but then in the back of my mind I have to be smart, I know I have to stay healthy. I don't want to miss the first game. It's hard to play football the way I play or anybody plays and try not to get hurt. That's the whole mindset and dilemma you have."

    Ward says he'll know when it's time.

    "I don't want to play for any other team. Keep me here. If I'm still producing, let me go out there. If I'm not, I'll walk away. I won't hang on."

    He misses his buddy, cornerback Deshea Townsend, whom the Steelers did not re-sign and is now in the Colts' training camp. The two were drafted in '98 and were together 12 seasons. He also misses Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes after building rapport with each receiver but says the young receivers, starting with Mike Wallace, have rejuvenated him.

    "It's a new age with the young guys. Mentally, they kept it fresh for me. There was a time it started to get monotonous and stuff. But with those young guys and seeing their development ..."

    He has that goal of reaching 1,000 receptions and perhaps surpassing Mike Webster's 220 games played with the Steelers. There are two more goals he cherishes even more. While Giants Stadium is No. 39 on his list, he would like nothing better than to play in No. 40 at the end of this season.

    "The Cowboys got their new stadium, I haven't played in that one. The Super Bowl is there," said the MVP of Super Bowl XL.

    And one more.

    "Maybe one day they'll say he was one of the greatest Steelers to ever wear the uniform and when it's all said and done and I can say I walked away and got everything I wanted."

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10233...#ixzz0xFVXJLbD
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Ward has milestones within his reach

    Honestly, if you look at the way Hines Ward plays...the type of receiver he is...he could play probably 15-16 seasons. He's a small tightend at the receiver position...he's a linebacker who catches footballs.

    As a huge Hines Ward fan, but as an even bigger Steeler fan...I would like to see nothing more than Hines play 3 more seasons...get over the 1000 receptions and 12,000 yard plateaus...and see him play 230 games as a Steeler.

    When you think about the Steelers organization...you think about greatness. Hines Ward is at least a part of that greatness. The character he has and the level at which he has played the game is something I do not think we'll see from one of our receivers again for a long time...Hines deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and I would like nothing more for him and the Steelers organization than to see him be able to continue to play to get the stats which make it virtually impossible to ignore him.

    Good luck this season Hines...
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    Default Re: Ward has milestones within his reach

    Everytime he catches a pass I think, "1 closer to the HOF!"
    "ARRRGGHHH THERE WILL BE MUTTON TONIGHT!" Said the Troll

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    Default Re: Ward has milestones within his reach

    Quote Originally Posted by bdeff View Post
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    Everytime he catches a pass I think, "1 closer to the HOF!"
    Brilliant stuff bdeff. Who knew?

    Seriously, he is one of my all-time favorite Steelers. I wear my #86 jersey with pride.

    POLITICIANS AND DIAPERS SHOULD BE CHANGED OFTEN AND FOR THE SAME REASON!

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    Default Re: Ward has milestones within his reach

    Quote Originally Posted by exNCite View Post
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    Brilliant stuff bdeff. Who knew?

    Seriously, he is one of my all-time favorite Steelers. I wear my #86 jersey with pride.

    Sadly though, that was the most brilliant statement I have ever made!
    "ARRRGGHHH THERE WILL BE MUTTON TONIGHT!" Said the Troll

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    Default Re: Ward has milestones within his reach

    Quote Originally Posted by bdeff View Post
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    Everytime he catches a pass I think, "1 closer to the HOF!"
    Every time he catches a pass,I think,"Man,I hope he shuts the **** up about Ben."

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    Default Re: Ward has milestones within his reach

    Quote Originally Posted by bdeff View Post
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    Everytime he catches a pass I think, "1 closer to the HOF!"
    X2

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    Default Re: Ward has milestones within his reach

    Quote Originally Posted by kinsar View Post
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    X2
    X3....
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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