No pain, no gain for Ward
Sunday, January 25, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Steelers cannot come close this week to duplicating the dramatic tale of Super Bowl XL, when they followed Jerome Bettis home to Detroit for his final game.
It's not the same. For one, Tampa, Fla., is not the
hometown of Hines Ward, and he has no plans to make Super Bowl XLIII his final game. So, while there is no story that can equal the Bus' from three years ago, Ward's will do.
"He's the heart and soul of our group," tight end Heath Miller said.
It's not just that Ward, at 32, is an elder, that he holds virtually every team receiving record, that he plays wide receiver like a linebacker, or that he was MVP of their most recent Super Bowl win. It's all that and more, like crying unabashedly in front of television cameras the day after the Steelers lost the AFC championship game in the 2004 season because he thought it was the last for Bettis.
Or Ward's determination to help biracial kids in his native South Korea. Or by taking special interest in young teammates to show them the ropes.
Now, their offensive co-captain is hurt again as the Steelers prepare for another Super Bowl visit. They can only hope it turns out as well as it did the last time he was hurt before a Super Bowl.
"I'm staying positive," Ward said of the MCL sprain in his right knee. "The last time, I had an AC sprain, almost separated my shoulder in practice two days before the Super Bowl."
It happened on Friday in Pontiac, Mich., when he hit the ground trying to catch a pass.
"I was in a sling Friday night, Saturday night. Sunday morning, I took a shot and then played. I was in excruciating pain and ended up playing."
Ward threw up before the game, too, the first time he said that had happened. Then, he went out and caught a touchdown pass, won the game's MVP, helped the Steelers to a victory, graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and went to Disney World -- and he took the Bus.