Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ward Hopes Polamalu Situation Works Out

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ward Hopes Polamalu Situation Works Out

Article excerpt

If anyone knows what Troy Polamalu might be going through as he determines whether to retire or play in 2015, perhaps for someone other than the Steelers, it is Hines Ward.

"They tell you when you come into the league, play as long as you can," Ward said Thursday from his home in Atlanta. "I would hate to see Troy in another uniform. I just think some way, some how, they can figure out something to work things out."

The Steelers never gave Ward that chance, never gave him the kind of time they are allowing Polamalu to come to terms that his career might be over. What became Black and Old Friday occurred March 2, 2012, when the Steelers released three of their most iconic veterans - Ward, Aaron Smith and James Farrior.

Ward did not want to go, seemingly how Polamalu feels now. Ward was the team's all-time leading receiver, Super Bowl MVP, four- time Pro Bowler and member of the exclusive NFL clubs of those who achieved 1,000 receptions and 10,000 receiving yards.

He wanted to play one more season. He was about to turn 36 and had played more than half of the 2011 season on an ankle so torn apart in the seventh game that he needed surgery to repair every one of its ligaments after the season. He kept playing, but was never the same. Then, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert called him into a meeting.

"I had a meeting with Tomlin and Colbert and the Rooneys about my future with the Steelers," Ward said, echoing the same kind of words Colbert issued this week about Polamalu and the team's talks about his "future."

They told him he was finished with the Steelers, no longer wanted, and it was probably time to hang it up.

"I was a little disappointed at first," Ward said. "There was nothing to say, they said I couldn't play anymore - because I was out there 50 percent on a messed-up ankle because I ripped every ligament in my ankle."

Ward used the word "blindsided" Thursday to describe how he felt back then. After all he had done, this was to be it?

"I asked for a paycut, whatever the minimum was," he said. "I just wanted to stay on the team and be a leader to Antonio [Brown], Mike [Wallace] and Emmanuel [Sanders] and just be the fourth guy. But they didn't have anything for me. It was disappointing."

Ward allowed himself to be cut rather than retire. He thought of playing elsewhere, but 18 days after he was cut, he held an emotional retirement ceremony at the Steelers facility.

"I just didn't think I needed to go to another organization to try to prove my worth," he said. "I got everything I wanted out of football. I went to three Super Bowls, we won two; I was Super Bowl MVP, I had four Pro Bowls and played 14 years.

"There were some hard feelings at first, but I look back and it was a blessing. What was I chasing? …

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