Thursday, March 1, 2012

Steelers Release Hines Ward

Let's face it, we all knew this day was coming. Hines had a big cap number and he became less and less a part of the Steelers offense as the season rolled on last year. Hines has had a great career in the black and gold. For a 3rd round pick out of Georgia, Hines became the greatest receiver in Steelers history. It's hard to even put his accomplishments into words for some Steelers fans. Even though we have moved to a pass-first offense now, for much of Hines' career the Steelers were still a run-oriented team. Despite that, Hines had 8 seasons with over 70 receptions, including a career high of 112 in the Tommy Gun offense of 2002. He had 6 1,000-yard seasons and shattered pretty much every receiving record in the Steelers history books. Only the 8th player in the history of the game to reach 1,000 catches. The 18th player with 12,000 receiving yards.

This was a business decision on the part of the Steelers. Releasing Hines freed up close to $3 million towards the salary cap. Even though Hines had offered to take a lower salary to play with the team, the powers that be obviously decided that they didn't think Hines was capable of helping the team win in 2012. Hines may go on to finish his NFL career with another team, like many great NFL legends have done over the years. Let's not forget that Franco Harris finished his career with the Seattle Seahawks, Jerry Rice spent a few years in Oakland and Seattle before finally hanging it up.

As fans, it would be hard for us to see Hines taking the field wearing another jersey. However, if Hines still feels he can play and another team is willing to give him a shot, we're not going to hold it against him. Hines is still our favorite player to ever wear the black and gold. He embodied everything this franchise was about for the last 14 years. He's gone now, but we'll always have some great memories of what he did for this team and this city.

At some point, we'll put together a list of some of our favorite Hines Ward memories. There certainly have been a lot over these last 14 years. Thanks for everything Hines. We'll still wear our 86 jerseys with pride.

No comments: