Hines Ward will have to wait at least another year to hear his name be inducted into Canton, Ohio. Ward was not part of the 15 finalists for the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall announced the finalists list Thursday evening with Ward’s name left off.
Ward has been named a semifinalist each year since 2016. But he’s again fallen short, unable to reach the final ballot. Ward was a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champ, and was named MVP of Super Bowl 40. But his path to football immorality has been difficult. That road will only narrow the longer he’s been retired, competing with more modern players who put up gaudier numbers.
Proponents of Ward’s enshrinement point to his impact as a blocker, legitimately one of the best blocking wide receivers in NFL history. His career receiving numbers, of course, are nothing to sneeze at either. In his career, all spent with Pittsburgh, he caught 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. He served as a Steelers’ coaching intern for the 2017 season before becoming an offensive assistant for the New York Jets. Currently, he is on Florida Atlantic’s coaching staff as a special assistant to head coach Willie Taggart while also serving as the team’s wide receivers coach.
Getting the nod over him includes Houston Texans’ wide receiver Andre Johnson. For comparison’s sake, Johnson was named to seven Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams, catching more passes and having nearly 2,000 more yards than Ward. He did, however, have 15 fewer touchdowns and never won a Super Bowl.
Several other receivers got the nod over Ward. That includes Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt, Devin Hester, and Johnson. The selection committee will be January 18th to vote in the finalists, which will be announced before the Super Bowl.
Others to be included as finalists are EDGE Demarcus Lawrence, LBs Patrick Willis, Sam Mills, and Zach Thomas. Again, here is the link to the complete list of 15.