It was going well for Hines Ward at the start. He looked good. Nice smile, Apollo Ohno-inspired soul patch and a borderline condescending Cris Collinsworth referring to him as "NBC's finest."
Ward told a funny story about getting stopped by Heinz Field security asking for credentials.
Then, it happened.
Collinsworth asked Ward what he thought of the Steelers offense.
"I saw more of a controlled passing attack, the offensive line has done a great job of protecting Ben this game. One thing that I'm missing is that deep threat. Not having Mike Wallace out there, I haven't seen a whole lot of shots being taken down the field. Hopefully when Mikes (sic) comes back, ya know, we can go out and, uh, you can see Mike make some big plays."
Cardinal rule of the former player in the broadcast booth. Never attach yourself to a team by using the pronoun "we."
Naturally, Steelers fans aren't going to think anything of it. The cardinal rule exists for Cowboys or Patriots (here's to you, Mr. Irvin and Mr. Bruschi) but Hines Ward can refer to the Steelers as "we" all he wants.
NBC disagreed. It was so poorly timed of a slip, they even brought him back on the air after the game for a "mea culpa" over the slip.
Poor Hines. He's probably barely even used to what he's doing, and there's little to suggest he wasn't completely serious about his comparison of being at Heinz Field but not in uniform to an episode of the Twilight Zone. He stumbles over Mike Wallace's first name, and reverts back to the team he's been a part of for the last 14 years.
All in all, not a bad start for Ward. It's not as if he caught 14 passes for 252 yards in his rookie debut on the field either.