What more can I say about the 35 year old Hines Ward? While we all love watching Hines do his work, gone are the days that he was making consecutive Pro Bowls and snagging 100+ passes in a season. His speed is diminishing a bit, his injuries are a bit more nagging for him at his age, and he has now become the possession-type #2 Wide Receiver for the Steelers. However, let me ask one question to all Steelers and all N.F.L. fans: Is there a WR in the last 15 seasons that has meant as much to his team, his fanbase, and his city in terms of his overall play at the WR position than Hines Ward? I’d be hard-pressed to find maybe one or two guys, but nobody has embodied the “Steeler Way” at a position that is as littered with douchetastic divas as it is now quite like Hines Ward. I won’t go on about what a vicious and devastating blocker he is, because that has been well documented (Keith Rivers, Ed Reed, and Bart Scott could tell you horror stories first hand). Yet if you take a look at his overall receiving stats over the last few years, you end up realizing that Hines is a damn fine WR despite his age and is still capable of competing at a high level as a starter in the N.F.L.:
After putting up back to back 1,000 yard seasons in 2008 and 2009, Hines still shined as the #2 WR: 59 catches for 755 yards and 5 TD’s. Considering that he put up similar stats to #2 WR’s like Pierre Garcon (67, 784, and 6 TD’s), Chad Johnson (67, 831, and 4 TD’s), and Donald Driver (51, 565, 4TD’s), Ward is in some decent company. In addition to his year in and year out play, Ward is also the elder statesman of the Steeler WR’s, and his veteran savvy is almost second to none amongst his peers. Hines knows the ins and outs of the position and can always be counted on to find the soft spot in a zone, or get open after Ben extends a play. Most importantly, Hines can also bestow the wealth of knowledge that he has learned over his almost decade and a half in the League on the young guys who can take advantage of a student of the game like Ward. And who better to learn how to play the position the correct way from than a future Hall of Famer? So, despite his age, The Super Bowl XL MVP still is capable of bringing it every week and provides the Steelers with a quality #2 guy heading into the 2011 season.