Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward had a long and successful career in Pittsburgh, playing for the team from 1998-2011 and winning two Super Bowls in the process. But even with that success, Ward isn't happy with the way his career ended.
Ward wanted to come back for the 2012 season, but the Steelers weren't interested. The franchise cut the four-time All-Pro in February, and instead of moving on to another team for the first time in the NFL career, Ward called it quits. Seeing the Super Bowl run Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has made in his final season eats at Ward a bit:
"I'm a little disappointed how it ended because it wasn't my idea how to end things," Ward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But that's part of the business. I still think about how it went down, and I look at Ray Lewis having the opportunity to walk off the field in Baltimore. I never had that opportunity. But this city still loves me and supports me, so regardless what I do, I always have a home back in Pittsburgh."
Ward put up impressive numbers over his 14-year career in Pittsburgh, totaling 12,083 receiving yards and 85 touchdowns. He had six 1,000-yard seasons and scored at least 10 touchdowns in a single season three times. Ward never played in fewer than 13 games in a season, and he holds the Steelers franchise records for catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in a career.
But after a 2011 season in which he caught 46 passes for just 381 yards and two scores, Pittsburgh decided it was time to part ways with its all-time greatest receiver. While that still bothers him, Ward has moved on to post-NFL life:
"I just take it one year at a time," Ward said. "I'm just enjoying being at home around my family. There are so many different projects out there, I'm sure (agent Andy Ree's) phone is ringing off the hook. I'm very blessed to be in a position like this."