Steelers veteran and captain Hines Ward was on The Jungle on the Jim Rome Show this afternoon. He gave some Hines-like positive sentiment and provided plenty of reasons why SteelerNation has cheered for him harder and longer than perhaps any other player on the roster.
He did admit this contract will be his last. Ward doesn't have any plans to continue playing after his contract expires.
"I won't play beyond (2013, the end of his contract)."
Ward continued, almost nostalgically, about his role on the Steelers currently, and particularly, the fatherly sense of pride he has in the development of the younger Steelers wide receivers, dubbed "Young Money."
"My role's diminished due to the rise of our young guys, and Mike Wallace. My job, when I see those guys making plays, I know I have an effect on that because I'm helping those guys understand the game and (to me) the game has slowed down and they can do less thinking and use their ability to go out there and make plays.
"I'm more like a coach on the field. Some guy may have a question on what route it is, and I'm there to be like, 'look, you've got this and you've got this.'"
As always, Ward provides plenty of reasons for Steelers fans to think highly of him. He summarizes his feelings about the game, even with the self-confessed "diminished" role he now has.
For me, I still love the game, I'm still smiling on the field. I've been hit hard before, and I just get up and I laugh about it, you know, it's football. Until I lose that edge, I'm going to continue playing football.
Don't think for a second he's not hungry, though. When asked what the driving point is in his career, Ward responded very simply:
"I want one more. I want one more. To win three Super Bowls, only a small number of guys have done that. I've been blessed to play in three Super Bowls, I've won two, but I think three is, like, you're the 'don.' You're the 'don' of all football players. You walk in with three rings on, regardless of what people think about you, they can't even say anything about you...I don't want to walk away from the game and sit there and say 'I still miss it.' I don't want to do 'Brett Favre' or something. When I walk away, I want to walk completely away. I want to say I gave it all I got. (I want to say) I miss the guys, but I don't miss the game.'"
It definitely doesn't appear Ward feels he's gotten to the point he's ready to hang it up tomorrow. And he points to his acrobatics in Week 5 as evidence.
"When I'm jumping over guys heads like Michael Griffin, there's still a lot of football left in me. When I line up across from a guy who I think I'm supposed to get open the majority of the time, and you're not going to win every battle, but if I go out there and say 'I should win this battle,' and I'm not winning that battle, I'll walk away."
I'll walk away from the game when I know I can't play anymore, but for me to jump over some guy's head to get in the end zone and help my team to a victory, there's still a lot a bit of football left in me."