No one epitomizes the toughness, dedication, and pride of the modern-day Pittsburgh Steelers more than Hines Ward. Often described as a “throwback player," Hines' major appeal is his work ethic, which makes him like everyone else in the Pittsburgh region. Students of the game admire Hines for his willingness and ability to block, while opponents hate him for the viciousness of those same blocks. When Terrell Suggs refuses to even utter your name, you know you're effective in your job. Continuing the everyman theme, he stands only 6 feet, 220 pounds and runs the 40 about as fast as the rest of us. In a league full of posturing and showboating, Hines' smile has charmed a city and set a new standard for player attitude. When you're that passionate and tough, who needs to give dirty looks? His play speaks for itself.
Hines was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to Georgia when he was 1. He attended the University of Georgia and played most of his games as a wide receiver, ranking second in Bulldogs history for career receptions and yardage. He also played tailback and is second only to Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker in all-purpose yards. Of course, to touch on the popular lore, Hines played QB as well, mostly in his sophomore year.
Hines has smashed nearly every receiving record in Steelers history, emerging as the team's all-time leader in career receptions, career receiving yards, and career receiving touchdowns. And on one of the top two days of my life, Hines won the Super Bowl XL MVP and, in a class move, “Road the Bus to Disneyworld."
Shortly after a gut-wrenching playoff loss to New England in ‘04, Hines was involved in a tearful press conference, where he expressed his friendship, as well as the team’s respect, for our beloved Jerome Bettis. Many mocked Hines, marking his show of emotion as weakness. But I couldn’t disagree more. Hines displayed guts, raw passion, and solidarity. That's a big reason why you see Pittsburgh fans in every city in America and why players never want to leave the organization. It's also why Bettis has a ring. If Pittsburgh didn’t already love Hines, that consummated the relationship. He has been the heart and soul of the team, and often our city. Hines is an adopted son, making us all proud of where we're from.
Oh, and he won a TV dance show too.
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