To quote The Gambler “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
The Rooney’s have proven that they know when to walk away.
Since rumors that the Steelers’ organization was considering releasing future hall of fame wide receiver and ballroom dancing champ Hines Ward Steeler nation was a bit more red than black and gold.
I am a Ward fan and nothing can be taken away from his stellar career with the Steelers, but I have to agree with the decision to release him from the team.
Ward has been the star wide receiver since his career with the Steelers since he was chosen in the 1998 draft. He achieved many accolades during his tenure with the team. He is known as being one of the toughest wide receivers in the game and noticed just as much for his blocking ability as his ability to catch the ball. When Ward wanted more money to stay the team make sure that they did what they needed to do to keep his smile on the Steelers’ sideline.
But this year the team proved it was going in a different direction. Ward was not a starter and most of the big plays went to the team’s younger crop of wide receivers including Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.
Despite the fact that Ward took limited snaps this season the team threw Ward some passes to make sure he achieved his 1,000th reception. Yes his 1,000th reception was a less than exciting shovel pass against the Cleveland Browns, but it shows that the organization respects their four-time pro-bowl wide receiver. In my opinion they were setting Ward up for retirement this year.
Here are the facts, releasing Ward also frees up $4 million of the salary cap. Even with taking a voluntary pay cut the organization could still find a No. 5 receiver who can double as a special teamer for a lot less money.
I think that NFL players need to go out with grace, unlike a certain quarterback that wore the number 4 on his jersey. Ward has achieved more than 12,000 receiving yards, he was named Super Bowl MVP and he even won a “Dancing” trophy. It is time for him to go out with class.
The Steelers organization has one goal - win championships. I am sure move to release Ward was not done out of disrespect, it was done to bring another Vince Lombardi trophy back to Pittsburgh.
Steelers fans are going to cry and moan but, at the end of the day, they will still wear black and gold all of this Ward talk will go by the wayside if Pittsburgh is in contention for another ring.
Quite frankly, it is time to retire the number 86 jersey. He will remain on lists as one of the greatest Steelers of all time but Hines I think it’s time to walk away.