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Hines Ward Refutes Retirement Speculation: "Let me set the record straight: I have no plans on retiring right now."

That didn't take long. Not one day had passed since the Pittsburgh Steelers bowed out of the 2011 NFL Playoffs with their shocking 29-23 OT loss to the Denver Broncos that the media hit the ground running with rampant speculation about the pending retirement of Hines Ward. Well, hold the phone according to none other than Ward himself. Writing on his Facebook page late Monday afternoon, Ward had the following to say about his retirement plans....or lack thereof:

I'm also getting lots of questions about retirement so let me set the record straight: I have no plans on retiring right now. I want to win another Superbowl. I don't know where the media is getting this info from but rest assured that when I decide to retire, you'll hear it from ME first. - HINES

Ward began his post by expressing disappointment and apologies to Steeler Nation for the way the Steelers performed in Sunday afternoon's loss to Denver. All class, as usual, from the future Hall of Famer.

We'll speculate about Ward's future with the Steelers, and whether or not the unthinkable of him finishing his career elsewhere is in the cards, but for now, let's just start every conversation about No. 86 under the assumption that he will not in fact be hanging it up after 14 wildly successful seasons with the black-and-gold.