Steelers to release Hines Ward

The Steelers announced today that they spoke with Hines Ward today and will be releasing him before the start of the 2012 NFL year.  Here is the quote released on the Steelers website:

“We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Steelers President Art Rooney II told the team’s website, Steelers.com. “Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines’ accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best.”

This does not come as much of a surprise after the decline of Ward’s playing time last season.  He was due to make about $4 million dollars this season and with the Steeler’s cap issues and the problem of trying to re-sign Mike Wallace they need that money.

Hines Ward also released a statement that Pittsburgh Tribune had on their website:

“This isn’t how I wanted this chapter of my career to end. I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I started here 14 years ago. I want to thank the organization, my teammates and coaches and everyone who made my run as a Steeler the best years of my life. To Mr. Rooney, thank you for allowing me to play for one of the greatest organizations in the world. To my fans and in particular Steeler Nation, thank you for your support and all the great memories. I gave my heart and soul for you every down and I will always bleed black and gold.

“I do feel that I still have more football left in me and I am looking forward to playing in the NFL again this upcoming season.”

There is no doubt that it will be really, really painful to see Hines in another uniform but no matter what he will always be a Steeler.  He has won two rings, a Super Bowl MVP and 1,000 career receptions with the Steelers and he won’t do that with any other team.   I would love to see him retire but based on his quote I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Hines is one of my favorite Steelers and I will definitely miss that smile and the hard hitting, he will most definitely be missed!