Four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion Hines Ward will retire from the NFL after 14 years in the league as a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ward finishes his exceptional career as the Steelers' franchise leader in receptions (1,000), yards (12,083), and touchdowns (85).
Ward was actually released earlier this offseason by the Steelers, but on Tuesday, the teary-eyed veteran wideout told his teammates and a crowded press room, I couldn't see myself in anything but Black and Gold.
Ward, who was scheduled to make $4 million in 2012, finished 2011 with only 46 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns, which are the lowest totals Ward accumulated in each category since he was a rookie back in 1998. So instead, Ward, now 36, will say goodbye to football. At least for now.
Ward, who was the 2006 Super Bowl MVP, is only the eighth player in NFL history to haul in 1,000 receptions, a feat he accomplished in the Steelers' regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Ward also joins Jerry Rice as the only other receiver to grab 1,000 career receptions and win two Super Bowls.
Ward's final game was the 2011 Wild Card Game against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, a game in which Pittsburgh fell to the power of Tebow on a thrilling touchdown on the first play of overtime. Ward was held without a catch in the game, which was a postseason first for him, in Pittsburgh's 29-23 loss.
Ward originally drafted in the third round by the Steelers after graduating from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's in consumer economics. He enjoyed four consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and won three team MVP selections. He was also named the NFL's dirtiest player twice in his career, with the most recent poll coming in 2009.
Ward, who is the son to a Korean mother and an African American father, was born in Seoul, South Korea, and currently wears a tattoo of Mighty Mouse right below a tattoo of his name in Korean. He also won Season 12 of Dancing With The Stars with his partner Kym Johnson.