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Hines Ward: 'That's not the Steelers way'

Former Steelers receiver Hines Ward is disappointed in the lack of leadership on the current team, and didn't mince words about it in a recent interview.

Matt Sullivan

You know things are going well for a team when former players begin to weigh in on the dirty laundry that's been aired.

An unnamed player sounded off about LaMarr Woodley's weight. Ryan Clark took exception to that, calling that unnamed played a coward. Antonio Brown didn't appreciate it either (and wore a garish hat).

Now it's Ward, who told NFL Network (as reported by Trib Review's Alan Robinson), "Guys start finger-pointing, calling out other guys. That's not the Steeler way. We always had a rule: We are a band of brothers. We've always collectively kept everything in-house. But there was no finger-pointing and calling out each other. That's total disarray, a locker room in disarray."

With all due respect to Ward, other comments in the same interview can paint him as a bitter ex-employee more than an experienced observer.

"I'm a little disappointed I didn't get the opportunity to run around and congratulate the fans and really just thank them for so many great years. I always wanted that. ... I always thought I could play football for another season, if I had been healthy."

To be fair, maybe Ward deserved that. But the team did put him on the field in Week 17 to catch his 1,000th pass - a two-yard loss - amid a reasonably competitive game against Cleveland.

Maybe Ward has earned the right to question the current leadership state of the team. Being a self-proclaimed (and well-supported) "Steeler For Life" doesn't mean he has to be a cheerleader. But it's not like the Steelers were all smiles and sunshine after less-than-successful season when Ward was there.

Leadership isn't all about preventing such issues, it's guiding a group to become stronger because of those issues. So in essence, regardless of the state of the locker room, how they respond to this is going to be more important. And perhaps that's the challenge Ward is giving the current team.