Ask any Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan if Hines Ward belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I’ll bet you an Iron City 90% of them say yes.
Ask anyone else in the league? Eh, I wouldn’t put money on it.
Ward talked to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Mark Kaboly yesterday, explaining that he was unsure if he would get in. Or even what the basic criteria is.
“Is it stats? My stats are OK,” he told Kaboly. “Is it MVPs? I got a Super Bowl MVP. I got two Super Bowl rings. I really don’t know the criteria. I don’t know what is really expected to get in.”
Ward was quick to point out to Kaboly that he “wasn’t worried” if he got in. While that’s one of the ultimate goals for any player, his career was an incredible success, gold jacket or not.
He is the only player in team history to reach 1000 receptions, hauling in 1000 exactly, a shovel pass to get him over the hump versus the Cleveland Browns.
Ward holds basically every major receiving record in Steelers’ history. Receptions, yards, and touchdowns, all by comfortable margins. For now at least – we’ll see where Antonio Brown’s career takes him.
But that’s just Steelers’ history and that alone is definitely not the criteria needed to be enshrined. Ward is in the difficult spot of playing in an era with Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, and Randy Moss, all of whom dust him statistically. Sure, none of them even came close to the type of hard-nosed blocker Ward was but that’s something that will be difficult to quantify and justify to the Hall of Fame committee.
It will rest on Ed Bouchette’s shoulders to state a case for Ward and convince the others to vote him in, football’s version of 12 Angry Men. Ward’s eligibility begins this year, five years removed from his playing days.
Ultimately, and feel free to chime in with your comments below, I don’t believe Ward gets in. Definitely not right away and probably not ever, either. We’ve seen wide receivers struggle to get voted in: Cris Carter and Andre Reed come immediately to mind. And Ward’s numbers simply pale in comparison to those aforementioned players. The intangibles just might not be enough to overcome that disparity.