If you're an avid reader of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, you likely saw the PG's article last Friday about Hines Ward's involvement with Craftsman tools and their new, interactive reality web series called 'Screwd'. I might have liked to have sat down with Ward for an intimate hour long conversation in a fantasy land first interview, but really I was quite thrilled to just get a chance to talk to him about his most recent sponsorship and non-football marketing endeavor -- Craftsman's online 'Do It Yourself' reality series that Ward is lending his name to and actually sounds quite pumped up to be a part of.
Ward will explain in greater detail, but basically the premise is to find a decidedly non-handy participant, put them through a rigorous series of DIY projects, and provided the contestant excels and works his or her way through the various projects adeptly, as much as $50,000 cash awaits. Ward makes it clear that he's an aspiring, but not at all competent handyman himself, so I'm guessing he'll want to be around the show and be as hands-on as possible if he's going to be a part of things at all. Kinda like what happened when he agreed to do Dancing With The Stars, I'm guessing Ward will continue to be 'all or nothing' with his endeavors.
And that's definitely the interesting thing about Ward's participation and triumph in DWTS -- an affirmation in hard work and self belief. Winning the Mirror Ball Trophy was so much more meaningful than just nailing down future endorsement deals and sponsorship opportunities like this Craftsman gig. That's big, no doubt. But my sense is that Ward really loved the experience because he proved to himself that he can learn and develop an aptitude for a foreign skill or activity beyond just football. That's all he's been doing and pursuing for almost 20 years now -- football. It's only natural to wonder if there's actually other things you can succeed at after devoting your whole life to a singular pursuit for so long.
Who knows if Ward had any of those doubts, but I do feel confident saying that winning DWTS has made him extremely excited and confident about patiently tackling big undertakings outside the world of football.
That's not to say he's checked out mentally with the game or ready to move on from the NFL just yet. Hardly. (Ward had actually just finished working out with some fellow Georgia Bulldog grads and one other high profile star NFL receiver earlier that morning.)
I'm just saying that whenever he does retire from the NFL, Ward is going to lean heavily on and draw from the DWTS win for the rest of his life, and particular at the outset of 'life after football' when he's considering what he'd like to do and what he thinks is possible. We'll all be better off for it if so.
Anyway, smart and fun partnership here by Ward and his business team. He's won over lots of female fans, as well as a slew of fans who previously didn't pay much attention to the NFL thanks to his DWTS involvement. Now Ward will be introduced to a new set of folks, younger and middle aged men mostly, who might know his name and like the NFL, but not really feel much of a connection with the MVP of Super Bowl XL. For anybody who gets engaged with the series and digs in and forces themselves to learn something, that will change.
Anyway, that's a long introduction for a not-so-in-depth chat, but you know how I do -- if I'm going to give you something to read and take time out to write something, I'm typically going to not just bore you with the fluff only, even at the risk of lulling a few of you to sleep.
To the chat:
On the Sears Craftsman challenge that he's sponsoring and involved with:
"Well I've been a huge Craftsman fan for a long time. I've used them for a lot of 'Do It Yourself' projects around the home, and I teamed up with the Craftsman brand to help them out in their search for a new breakout star in their new interactive online experience called 'Screwed' where survival comes down to the right tool. And fortunately, it was exactly what I wanted to do with Dancing With The Stars, taking a guy who hadn't danced a day in his life to going all the way to winning the Mirror Ball Trophy. So this Craftsman 'Screwed' promotion is looking for someone with little to no tool skills whatsoever. The individual will go through a series of grueling, boot-camp training sessions by some of the Craftsman experts, and it's a chance for the winner to win up to like $50,000 and become the ultimate handyman. So the concept is almost the same as Dancing With The Stars -- you're taking a person who really hasn't done much or done little by using tools and putting them through a series of building projects and stuff like that. So I'm very eager about teaming up with Craftsman and being a part of that, because I'm always looking to be a part of bigger and better things. So I wish I could sign up for it. But the competition goes through August 5th to October 23rd and you go on CraftsmanScrewd to log and learn more information about it."
I'm sure there will be plenty of wives and girlfriends who would be eager for their partner to participate and learn some skills around the house:
"Exactly, especially with the economy being the way it is. I wish I knew more and be able to do it myself and fix up things around my own house instead of paying someone to come out. But I think it's a great program. Craftsman has been the most durable tool in the marketplace for over 80 years, so I'm pretty sure every man out there knows what Craftsman stands for and what it's all about."
It was interesting to me to see just how competitive you are shine through on Dancing With The Stars. You stayed humbled and mentioned feeling blessed throughout the competition to just still be alive and competing, but it also seemed evident after a few weeks that you were dead set on winning it all. Are you just one of those types of people that wants to win at all costs, no matter the activity or contest?
"I do. I mean, I sacrificed my whole offseason. I moved to LA just so I could give myself an opportunity to put myself in a chance to be successful at it. It was a great opportunity for me being that there was the lockout going on. That's why I'm excited to be a part of this Craftsman program, because I'm a firm believer that you can mind to anything and get something accomplished. And really that's what Dancing With The Stars has done for me. You know, take a guy that's never dance....I was scared to even go to my high school prom. Here I am with The Mirror Ball Trophy. And when Crafstman came to me about teaming up with their new interactive online experience to give somebody else a chance -- male or female -- to be the ultimate handyman, I really wish I could sign up for it to be honest with you, because I remember building an entertainment center and putting the middle piece on backwards. I had to take the whole thing down because there's us guys who don't really like to read directions; we just think we can put it all together. So I think it's fitting after having a guy who's experienced Dancing With The Stars, and here I am and teaming up and really promoting this 'Screwed' event by Craftsman. It's just a big honor for me."
So, it sounds like the Craftsman partnership is an exciting and fun one. But are there any outrageous or funny offers that you've received since winning DWTS?
"[Chuckles] No, I mean, being who I was as a football player and winning Super Bowls, and being a Super Bowl MVP. but winning Dancing With The Stars has definitely opened up doors and opportunities for me to go out there and team up with people. But I guess Craftsman came to us and thought it would be a great promotion because of what all I had to endure and go through with Dancing With The Stars. They want to run a similar promotion that;s somewhat similar and like what I did with Dancing With The Stars, so they just though I'd be more fitting to team up with them and kind of be the head guy and lead on the promotion. Because like I said, if I can go out and win the Mirror Ball Trophy having never danced a day in my life, I'm pretty sure some male or female can put all the tools together to go out and be the ultimate handyman. Plus, a chance to win $50,000 would definitely come in handy. So I just want people to log on to CraftsmanScrewd.com to learn more information and get themselves an opportunity to win that $50,000 and become the ultimate handyman."
Changing gears here real quickly -- are you back in football training mode?
"Yeah, I just finished working out today. I just finished working out with Matthew Stafford, Massaquoi Calvin Johnson -- we was just out there coaching those guys up, running routes. I really wasn't doing any catching beacuse I still can't catch balls yet until I'm finished with my rehab. But just going out there running routes with those guys, getting back into football mode. Everybody's eager to play football, and until we get a lockout situation, guys are just working out. And for me, I'm working out and I'm teaming up with Craftsman to promote this new online experience that they have."
One of the things Steeler Nation loves most is watching you get back up from a big hit with a smile on your face -- does a name come to mind as somebody who might do some trash talking about how you and Dancing With The Stars?
"[Laughs] No. Just working out today with those guys -- Calvin and some of those guys -- they were just more excited to be able to showcase that football players can do other things out there besides just being football. So I've had more encouraging feedback more than anything."