Over the last 14 years I can't think of a player I despised more than Hines Ward. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver got on my nerves like you wouldn't believe. From the cheap shots on the field (he once broke Keith Rivers jaw blocking on an interception return) to the ridiculous name (what kind of name is Hines?) to the irritating smile that always covered his face Hines Ward could get under your skin. After watching his retirement press conference I must say I feel differently.
In an emotional ceremony Ward professed his love for the city of Pittsburgh, the terrible towel waving fans, and the Steelers organization he played his entire career for. Although he thought he still had some football left in him he couldn't see himself wearing another jersey and would rather retire a Steeler for life.
That type of loyalty and respect for a team is very rare. In a business as unforgiving as football where no player is untouchable (Favre, Manning, Smith, Rice) and trust is a four letter word Ward's position is astounding. It is evident his experience with the Steelers had a profound impact on his life.
I don't like Hines Ward the player, but I respect Hines Ward the man. To be fair he's probably had a Hall of Fame career. If you count the 2 Super Bowls, a Super Bowl MVP, 4 Pro Bowls, and the Steelers all time leader in catches, yards, and touchdowns it seems like a no brainer. 6 months ago I would have given my right pinkie toe to see Hines Ward carted off the field on a stretcher. Now I'd like to see the number 86 retired in Pittsburgh forever. What a difference a 10 minute press conference can make.