Hines Ward Admits ‘It’s Frustrating’ Not Being Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame

For the seventh straight season, Hines Ward was a Hall of Fame semifinalist. And for the seventh straight season, Ward will not wind up in Canton, Ohio.

While that doesn’t impact the great career Ward had or how he’ll be remembered in Pittsburgh, he admits it’s frustrating to not have gotten that knock on his door yet.

Speaking with Jim Rome on The Jim Rome Podcast, Ward admitted it’s been a long wait, one that will continue at least another year.

“It’s frustrating,” he told Rome. “But I only can control what I can control.”

His Hall of Fame chances are now entirely out of his control. He did the hard part. He played in the NFL for well over a decade. He caught passes, he blocked in the run game, and he won a Super Bowl MVP. His fate is in the hands of a select few who vote on football immortality every year.

Ward doesn’t get a vote. But ask his opinion and he believes he’s done enough to get in.

“I thought what a Hall of Famer was a winner. A guy who changed the game, who impacted the game. Yes, I impacted the game at a different level as far as my blocking skill. But when the game was on the line, you talk about playoff football, you look at my stats, I’m right there toe-to-toe with everybody.”

If there’s a #1 argument to present to voters, it’s undoubtedly what Ward did in the playoffs. Even in a different era on a run-heavy team, Ward is one of the most productive postseason receivers in history. He ranks top ten of all-time in playoff receptions (88 – 7th) and receiving yards (1181 – 9th) while he’s tied fifth all-time with ten touchdowns. None of his scores were louder than the one he caught in Super Bowl XL, a masterfully run trick play where WR Antwaan Randle El hit Ward for a 43-yard touchdown. When the game meant the most, Ward shined.

But he’s stuck in a never-ending receiver logjam. Even other great names like Tim Brown, Andre Reed, heck, Terrell Owens wasn’t even first ballot, those guys had to wait their turn. In 2023 alone, seven of the 28 semifinalists were wide receivers (and it’s eight if you include WR/CB/RET Devin Hester). Ward lost out to Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, and Hester. Ward’s path to Canton seems narrow and his best odds of getting in might be through the Senior’s Committee years down the road. He’s now competing with players from more modern eras too which will only hurt him when comparing numbers. But Ward argues it’s apples to oranges.

“I didn’t have the luxury of getting a free escape off the line of scrimmage the first five yards…to come from a running organization like the Pittsburgh Steelers for over half my career, all the quarterbacks that I played with, I think a lot of people don’t know. I had Ben Roethlisberger at a very young age where we were telling him, don’t turn the ball over. Only pass the ball 20, 25 times a game. So I didn’t get a lot of attempts early on in his career.”

For the first section of his career, Ward didn’t have a Peyton Manning like Wayne did. Or a Kurt Warner like Holt. He had Kent Graham and Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. Roethlisberger grew into a Hall of Fame but his first several years were spent managing the game, handing the ball off as the Steelers relied on their defense. By the time the offense turned the keys over to Roethlisberger, Ward was nearing the end of his career.

Frustrated as he might be, it’s doubtful he’ll be inducted into the Hall anytime soon. It won’t be this year. It’s not clear when the next Steeler will get in. James Harrison also failed to make the finalists list while future names like Maurkice Pouncey are debatable. There might not be another Steeler who gets in until Roethlisberger is eligible for the 2027 class. But Steelers’ fans know how important Ward was and will always be to the organization. He’ll have his spot in the Hall of Honor soon enough. Hopefully one day, a trip to Canton follows.

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