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Hines Ward: Football is not ready for an openly gay player

On Monday, the NBA became the first of the four major American team sports to have an openly gay player when Jason Collins decided to come out. Now, the question on the minds of many people is whether or not any of the other three sports will follow.

Will Collins’ announcement inspire others to come forward and in hopes of gaining acceptance for who they are? Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward does not believe the NFL is ready for that.

“I don’t think football is ready, there’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much,” Ward told Erik Kuselias on NBC Sports Radio Tuesday morning, via Pro Football Talk. “Hopefully one guy comes out of the closet and [will] be comfortable with himself. I don’t have anything against a gay football player or a gay person period so if he does, he has support from me. I want people to live their lives for who they are and don’t have to hide behind closed doors to do that.”

While there will undoubtedly be people who confuse Ward’s comment for a homophobic remark, he is simply being honest. Because of the physical nature of the game of football and the stereotypes associated with gay men, it might be more of a challenge for a gay NFL player to come out. As Collins said, he goes against many of the “soft” stereotypes that people think of. An NFL player could have even more trouble breaking that mold.

Comments like the ones Mike Wallace made on Monday and the infamous remarks Chris Culliver made before the Super Bowl remind us that not all of the NFL’s players are ready to accept a gay teammate. However, that time may never come unless someone from the NFL follows in Collins’ footsteps.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Hines Ward: Steelers are in ‘total disarray’

Last weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled a New York Jets when an anonymous player reportedly blasted linebacker LaMarr Woodley for having poor workout habits that led to a number of injuries. The comments were the type we are used to hearing from a team like the Jets, but were highly uncharacteristic of an organization like Pittsburgh’s.

In Hines Ward’s opinion, the anonymous bashing proves the Steelers have a major issue inside their locker room at the moment.

“When you lose so much leadership in the locker room, that’s when things present itself like that,” Ward told NFL Network’s NFL AM on Friday morning, via Around the League. “Guys start finger-pointing, calling out other guys. That is not the Steeler way. We’ve 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 each other out. That’s a total disarray, a locker room in disarray.”

It’s tough to argue with Ward, who spent 14 seasons with the team and knows the organization as well as anyone. A lot of things went wrong for the Steelers last season during their 8-8 campaign, but it was not the first disappointing season the team has endured. It is, however, one of the few times we have heard reports of teammates bashing one another.

The Steelers have a younger team than they had when Ward was there, which means someone has to step up and be a leader. I’m sure Mike Tomlin would prefer that Ben Roethlisberger be at least one of the guys to do so next season.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Hines Ward joins NBC Sports, will appear on Football Night in America

Hines Ward will be making the transition from athlete to broadcaster now that he’s retired.

The former Steelers receiver has been hired by NBC Sports according to SI media reporter Richard Deitsch.

Deitsch says Ward will serve as an analyst for “Football Night in America,” college football and on the NBC Sports Network.

NBC’s Football Night in America frequently rates as one of the most highly-watched shows on TV, so this will be a huge stage for Ward. He exhibited some charm as a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” and his lengthy career with a successful NFL team made him fairly well known. Another plus for NBC is that Hines is a hated player; networks loving having controversial personalities, and Ward fits that role.

I just hope he doesn’t screw up an already outstanding show. Between Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, I love watching Football Night in America, so it will be up to Ward to ease his way in.

H/T Sports Grid via Black Sports Online
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Bengals safety Chris Crocker blasts Hines Ward for trying to end people’s careers

On Tuesday, Hines Ward announced his retirement with an emotional speech during which he pronounced himself a Steeler for life. To many, Ward epitomizes the way the wide receiver position should be played. He did more than just catch 1,000 passes, reel in 85 touchdowns and win two Super Bowls during his 14-year career in Pittsburgh. Ward also played the game with the toughness of a tight end, always looking to throw a block to spring someone else free. There are those who saw it as hard-nosed football, and then there are those like Bengals safety Chris Crocker who have ripped Hines for it.

“He tried to end people’s careers and that’s just not the way the game is supposed to be played,” Crocker said according to Bengals.com.

“Stuff like that, it’s just not right. And I’m not the only guy that thinks it.”

In one breath, Crocker called Ward a dirty and dangerous player. In the next, he praised him for being an all-around receiver and potential Hall of Famer.

“He’s probably the first receiver to make blocking such a big part of his game; he was an all-around receiver,” Crocker explained. “He was a dirty player, but he made a lot of plays. They used him perfectly to suit his abilities and he was a big-time player for them. Some people might think of him as a borderline Hall of Famer, but I think the fact he helped them win two Super Bowls and all the things he did for that team make him deserving.”

I’m not sure if Ward ever set out to end careers, but Crocker is certainly right that he is not the only person who thinks Hines is a dirty player. Ed Reed, who was the recipient of one of the most brutal Ward blocks of all time, also called the Steelers receiver a dirty player last summer. Overall, it would seem that the general consensus is people respect Ward’s toughness but question the way he utilized it.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Pittsburgh TV station falls for Hines Ward-to-Ravens spoof report

The 6 o’clock morning news at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh found itself in an embarrassing situation Wednesday after it erroneously reported as fact a satirical story by BroCouncil.com saying that beloved former Steelers receiver Hines Ward signed with the bitter divisional-rival Ravens. Here’s news anchor Todd McDermott first mentioning the “report” in passing as the broadcast transitioned to traffic:

Never mind that free agents can’t sign contracts until Tuesday, or the fact the story is labeled as a spoof, it’s hard to fathom what about Bro Council’s report made the folks at WPXI think it was real, what with tidbits like the following:

“Ward was also the last active Steeler on the roster to play in Three Rivers Stadium, and the first Steelers player to have a stadium named after him.”

“Team president Art Rooney II didn’t have much to say after hearing the news, but he did say that he was sad to see him go to the Ravens and that ‘Pittsburgh Steeler football may not be the same without him, but his smile was pretty creepy anyway.’”

Eventually, WPXI became privy to the joke and, less than 20 minutes after the first mention, filed this retraction:

[Read more...]

Hines Ward Sat Out Against Patriots Because Their Secondary is Awful

With Hines Ward nursing an ankle injury throughout the week leading up to the Steelers’ showdown with the Patriots, Pittsburgh decided to declare him inactive for Sunday. You might think that Ward would have wanted to tough it out in such an important conference match-up, but the Steelers felt there was no need to push it.  Why?  Well, for one thing there is a lot of football left to play this season and Pittsburgh could use a healthy Ward down the stretch.  More importantly, the Patriots probably couldn’t stop Georgia Tech’s passing attack let alone an NFL team’s.

“I probably could have forced it and played but we have some great wideouts,” Ward said according to Boston.com via the Post-Gazette. “I wasn’t really concerned. And against the Patriots, we felt we could exploit their secondary. That wasn’t the same secondary that we played against a year ago without having [James Sanders], [Brandon Meriweather] wasn’t back there, and they let Leigh Bodden go. We kind of liked our matchups. So there was no need for me to try to force it and go.”

If the New England defense is as bad as many expect, they stand little chance of improving.  If they are a group that was carefully selected by Bill Belichick that needs a kick in the ass in order to gel, now would be a good time.  No defense in the NFL is getting less respect right now than Belichick’s.  They already had a former team leader rip them apart for their scheme and roster moves this week.  If Ward saying he sat out because you don’t need any extra weapons when facing the Patriots doesn’t motivate New England, nothing will.

Ed Reed Calls Hines Ward a ‘Dirty Player’

You know the old expression “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”? The NFL lockout has reportedly ended before training camp has even begun, but that expression has fully applied to the world of sports over the past few months. Fans have been yearning for anything NFL-related like free agency and OTAs. More importantly, the lockout has robbed us of a whole mess of trash talk.

Sure, we have gotten the occasional cry-baby spazfest from guys like James Harrison, but there has been little talk to help fire us up for some real game action.  Last week, Ed Reed let a few more sparks fly within the Ravens-Steelers rivalry with his thoughts on Hines Ward.

“I love Hines as a player and I told him that,” Reed told the Baltimore Sun at his football camp. “But I told him also for a long time, ‘You’re a dirty player because I know how you play.’”

The history between Reed and Ward goes back a long time, as you probably know.  Reed is one of the game’s hardest hitters and probably doesn’t like the fact that Ward has dropped him with a block.  What Ed calls a “cheap shot,” some of us call being embarrassed that a receiver put you down.  As a receiver who isn’t afraid to throw a block, Ward is a dying breed.  Considering he is a respected veteran in the league and plays the game at full-speed, I doubt the officials will make anything of Reed saying he’s a dirty player.  Bottom line: football’s back.

Chest bump to Pro Football Talk