Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders share a lot in common. Aside from being drafted by the same team, Ward and Sanders are now both Super Bowl champions. They're also both undersized, and were taken far later in the draft because of that fact.
In the week leading up to Super Bowl 50, Ward and Sanders teamed up with Tide Pods for an ad campaign to help encourage people to "Never Underestimate Small." In the short clip below, Ward, a former quarterback and wide receiver at the University of Georgia, discusses being underestimated by NFL scouts in the months leading up to the draft.
After he left Georgia to enter in the 1998 NFL Draft, it was discovered that Ward was missing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. Despite Ward's high production at Georgia, this news scared off a lot of NFL teams. It didn't help that he was barely six feet tall.
Slow, undersized, and missing an ACL, Ward dropped to the third round, where the Steelers took a chance on him with the 92nd overall pick. That chance paid off in a big way. Ward is one of the most beloved Steelers of all time. The franchise leader in receiving yards (12,083) and receptions (1,000), and a former Super Bowl MVP, Ward is the perfect example of why people should "Never Underestimate Small."
Sanders, who's listed at 5-foot-11, 180 lbs., was taken by the Steelers in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh selected another undersized wide receiver by the name of Antonio Brown in the sixth round that same year. Brown and Sanders combined for 230 receptions and 3,102 receiving yards in 2014. Brown, who's listed at 5-foot-10, 181 lbs., is now widely regarded as the best wide receiver in the NFL after accumulating 265 receptions, 3,532 receiving yards, and 23 touchdowns over the last two seasons combined.
The Steelers have had a knack for drafting talented, undersized wide receivers in the later rounds of the draft, and turning them into highly productive players at the next level. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues in 2016.
Aside from Ward and Sanders, the list of other professional athletes who were involved in the Tide Pods ad campaign included Emmitt Smith, Mia Hamm, Danica Patrick, Daniel Bryan, Jonathan Stewart and David Villa.