A Tale of Two Receivers - Hines Ward and Chad Ochocinco on Dancing With the Stars, Semi-Finals

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If you don't know what this picture is about, you've been living under a rock for the past week. In case you have, that is Hines' partner Kym Johnson after the fall that sent her to the hospital on a stretcher. But more about the traumatic and triumphant events of the week later - first let's review where we are.

 

Both Chad and Hines made the semi-finals, but Hines was the overall leader in the competition; he took the lead in cumulative points during Week 2 and never relinquished it. However, the competition has been very tight, and only 20 points separate Hines and Kym from Kirsti and Max, the lowest-scoring remaining couple. Chad was holding on by thread - he and partner Cheryl Burke began the week 60 points below the leader, with the lowest score among the remaining couples. 

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Chad Ochocinco: Waltz 9/9/9  Samba - 8/8/9

Chad was despondent  during the rehearsals: " I feel like I let you down a little bit".

Cheryl: "You didn't let me down. At this point we have to stop thinking about the past and just move forward. At this point you get a clean slate... You're going to dance like no one has ever seen you dance before."

Judges' Comments, Waltz:

Carrie Ann: "Where did you come from? This new Chad with the new posture and the new elegance and never ending a movement, one movement going right into the next movement, fluidity, refinement, woohoo!"

Len: "Chad, I don't know where to start, because you're the only one with absolutely no dance experience in the semi-finals. You know, if they've climbed hills, you've climbed mountains, and to come out in the semi-final and produce a waltz like that - fantastic!"

Bruno: "Man, respect. You are one of the ones that has had the toughest criticisms from us from Day 1, because we knew there was something there for us to see. Tonight you showed it to us."

Before they danced the Samba there was a montage about Chad's life and comments from important people in his life. I'm glad I saw this, because I finally know what "Child, please" means - they were the first words he spoke.  He grew up in a ghetto, his father was in jail and his mother disappeared. His grandmother raised him, and he knew that sports would be his ticket out of the ghetto.  Marvin Lewis commented that he was lucky to have made it to the NFL, considering the rough road that school was for him. But he was determined, and that determination served him well.

Judges' Comments,Samba:

Len: "You had a tough deal tonight, because you had the toughest of the Latin dances. And for a tough dance you did a great job, well done."

Bruno: "I'm torn between admiration and bitter envy. [during the dance Cheryl ripped the shirt off him, and he is indeed ripped....] I will never take my clothes off again. But I'm telling you, the key to this dance is excitement, the cheeky grin, the party mood - you have the sparkle in your eye, and you got it right."

Carrie Ann: "Unfortunately your technique hasn't quite matured quite like the others, but that's because you started from a different location. You are just phenomenal - I watch the audience watch you - everyone was smiling. Your charisma lights up the room."

The MC asked Chad what was next,  since he removed his shirt for the semi-finals  He said "I think I have to come out here with no pants." This statement undoubtedly put wavering voters over the edge, because despite his much improved showing he didn't advance to the finals. The scores were the lowest of the evening, and of course there was no chance to make up the deficit he was in at that point. His fan base couldn't save him, and it was back to Cincinnati. 

As I've noted before, the competition at the top was somewhat stronger in Season 10 - the top two contestants were a member of a girl dance band and an Olympic Gold Medal figure skater. The highest scorer from Season 10, adjusted for the different total number of points possible, had 15 more points than the highest scorer from Season 12 - Hines and Kym. Chad and Cheryl's total score was 24 points lower than Season 12's lowest scoring couple, Ralph and Karina. I can't help but think that, although he might not have made the finals, Chad would have been a lot closer to the rest of the pack if he had worked harder sooner. So it is with a mild regret that we bid him adieu and move on to the man of the hour.

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Hines Ward:  Argentine Tango - 10/10/10  Salsa - 10/10/10  Cha-Cha Faceoff - 0

As you may recall, last week's results show featured a segment called "DanceCenter" with Kenny Mayne and Jerry Rice.  Rice commented on the "hits" Hines puts on Kym Johnson. They showed a montage of Hines dropping or throwing Kym as he attempted to learn new moves. This was quite funny at the time, but was eerily prescient.

During the week's rehearsals Kym was adding a number of risky moves. The montage showed Hines trying to do a flip off a small stage and crashing to the ground, various lifts where Kym would get stuck on Hines' shoulder, making it look like he was bringing home a haunch of venison, and so forth. She said that she wanted to add elements that she had never done before, and never seen done on Dancing With the Stars.

Hines: "I'm not feeling good about this. Why are you doing stuff you've never done before with me? Cause you know that I've never done this stuff before.. So if I've never done and you've never done it, guess what? It might not get done."

Kym: "It will get done - you know, I've got to take risks. I've got to step it up."

And then came the fall. Hines was trying to pull her up and under his legs, but she didn't get any rotation and instead fell on the top of her spine with her head bent towards her chest. Hines slipped and came down with his full weight on her head. To make sure we didn't miss all the details, there was a slow-motion replay that showed just how sickening it was. The doctors told her she was lucky to not be paralyzed - from the look of things she's lucky to be alive. In the picture at the head of the article, Hines is asking her if she's okay, and she said she couldn't feel her arms.

As she was being loaded into the ambulance, she said "I can't believe this is happening. There's so much to do. You know, it's like a wasted day we can't afford..."

Hines: "Don't worry about that. Make sure you're healthy first."

Later he said "She's more worried about my practice time. To be honest, I'm not even thinking about the competition now. I just hope and pray she's all right. Right now I'm just worried about her."

She was sent home a day later in a neck brace, and on the day of the show the doctors cleared her to dance. Despite her natural disinclination to do so, she gamely came out and they danced the Argentine Tango. Millions of people held their breath to see what would happen. It was unbelievably beautiful - an intense routine that had the judges on their feet applauding along with the audience. Hines gave Kym a huge smile after they finished, then wept as they stood before the judges. As he said afterwards, "Praise to God that she's still walking."

Judges' Comments, Argentine Tango:

Len: "I was there in the club, watching the whole story unfold! We were all there! The floozy coming down the stairs, the guy: "Let's get this on!" The legs! It was like something from the Kama Sutra! [To the world at large:] "Now! Do you understand? That was a tango!"

Bruno: "Every emotion was out there for the taking! The battle of wills between the man and the woman - who's going to be the dominant partner? It was like good sex - you never want it to end!"

Carrie Ann: [through tears, which were abundant onstage...] "I'm just happy you're okay, because that was a serious injury. I'm so impressed with the routine, and the way you danced the routine, but mostly, Hines, I'm so impressed with you, the way you partnered her through that routine, because that routine could have been very dangerous for her. I saw the way you supported her - the connection was way beyond what we ask in a dance routine... it was someone really taking care of his partner, and the dance was stunning."

As Franco Harris said about the dance, "When another part of your team is kinda hurt and not doing well, you find ways to pick it up yourself."  Kym commented that the perfect scores were "all Hines."

These scores were the very first perfect scores of the season, and only one other couple received a perfect score, and only for one of their dances.

Hines admitted to Kym later that he had watched the video of the fall that was showed before they danced.

Kym:  "I told you not to watch it."

Hines:  "I'm sorry."

Kym:  "How did you get through that dance?:

Hines: [in tears yet again] "You know what, I don't know how I got through it."

Sally Wiggin of WTAE Action News told viewers that "Hines paid Kym the highest compliment:"

Hines: "She's a part of Steeler Nation. I think all the trials and tribulations during this past week, she just showed me, by playing hurt coming out there and dancing hurt, that's the Steeler way."

Before their second dance there was also a montage of scenes from Hines' childhood, comments from important figures, and so on. Mike Tomlin, Bill Cowher, Troy Polamalu, and Art Rooney II were among those who spoke about his competitiveness, his work ethic, and his ability to overcome the odds. As Rooney said, "He's very determined to win this thing, so I wouldn't count him out."

Judges' Comments, Samba:

Len: "I tell you what, you were steaming and I was beaming. I loved it... it was just a joyful experience. I love your philosophy - success comes in cans, not can'ts."

Bruno: "Just one sentence can describe you - you're beautiful, man. Beautiful person, great ability, great versatility, and supremely watchable."

Carrie Ann: "I can't even express how much joy I get when you dance. I grew up dancing as a way of self-expression, and it's about letting it out and letting people enjoy. And that is what you've done in every single dance."

The third dance was a Cha-Cha faceoff. This is a brand new thing, and Len Goodman was open about the fact that it was a way to weight the judges' scores a bit more, so that a really good dancer with a less broad fan base wouldn't be voted off the show, as had happened in some past seasons.  The general agreement in the blogosphere is that this was done to make sure Chelsea Kane makes it into the finals. She is indeed a first rate dancer, but she has several times been in danger of being sent home, despite being well up the list in total points.  First the #1 seed (Hines and Kym) danced against the #4 seed (Ralph and Karina,) and Hines and Kym advanced. Chelsea and Mark advanced agains Kirsti and Max. So Hines and Kym faced off against Chelsea and Mark, and while the judges confessed to being conflicted, they all chose (surprise...) Chelsea and Mark. The points were Winner Takes All, so Chelsea and Mark got an addition 15 points added to their score, sending them into the lead.

But to return to our original premise for one last time, here are the relative positions of Hines and Chad throughout the competition:

Week 1:  

Hines -  3/11                 

Chad -  6/11

Week 2:  

Hines -  1/11, 1/11   

Chad -  9/11, 8/11

Week 3:  

Hines -  1/10, 1/10  

Chad -  8/10, 7/10

Week 4:  

Hines -  2/9, 1/9  

Chad -  4/9, 7/9

Week 5:  

Hines -  1/8, 1/8  

Chad -  6/8, 7/8

Week 6:  

Hines -  3/7, 1/7  

Chad -  3/7, 6/7 

Week 7:

Hines - 1/6, 1/6

Chad -  4/6, 5/6

Week 8:

Hines - 2/5, 1/5

Chad -  4/5, 4/5

Week 9:

Hines - 2/4, 2/4

Chad -  4/4, 4/4

So Hines has achieved his first wish - he made it to the finals. He has been thrilled that various of his teammates have come to cheer him on, and according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, James Farrior stated "We're going to have a whole Steelers section [in the audience.] We couldn't get the Super Bowl trophy, but we're about to get that dancing trophy."

Finally, here are a few more comments from the Sally Wiggin phone interview tonight:

Wiggin reminded Hines of meeting with him and Kym at his Atlanta home prior to the start of the competition, and asked if he had any idea that he would get this far.

Hines: "No, I didn't. I actually didn't think I would get this far. But I knew through hard work, taking one week and a time, and the help of Steeler Nation voting me in each week, I knew I could get far. I just didn't know I would get this far."

Wiggin: "'This far' is now the finals, and he knows he will be dancing the quickstep." [There will also be a freestyle routine.]

Hines: "I busted my tail every week to dance and be the most consistent dancer on this show thus far. So I just want to finish strong with a nice finale routine, and hopefully Steeler Nation will vote their tails off to get me that mirror ball trophy and bring it back to Pittsburgh."

Wiggin: "He wants to thank Steeler Nation for making its presence felt, not only in the audience but in votes, which he believes has made all this possible.  Steeler Nation thinks his undeniable dancing talent had a little something to do with it."

Which is a good time to remind you that if you've been lame and haven't gotten around to voting, what the heck are you waiting for? You have to set up an account on ABC to vote online. If you vote by phone you will want to call during the early part of the competition, or you may have trouble getting through. You have 5 votes from each separate phone number to which you have access. The number for Hines and Kym is 1-800-868-3403. A robot  voice will thank you for voting for Hines and Kym. You can only vote until 1/2 an hour after the show is over. You can vote online - again, you get 5 votes for each separate email address, all of which have to be registered first. You can vote online until early the next day.  

I hear rumors that Jet and Raven fans are being urged to vote for anyone but Hines. Let it not be said that the Mirror Ball trophy did not come to Pittsburgh because we didn't do our part. Heaven know Hines and Kym have done their part.

There are earlier articles in this series. Google them. It's three in the morning and I'm going to bed...

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