With the Pittsburgh Steelers in cost-cutting mode, they have decided to release a player who has become synonymous with the black and gold throughout the years.
That player is veteran receiver Hines Ward.
Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted on Wednesday:
End of an era: Steelers will release WR Hines Ward.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) Feb. 29, 2012
This may mean the end of Ward's career. He's a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time champion, but he's also 35 years old and was overtaken by wideouts Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown last season.
Let me put it this way: If the Steelers cut Ward, that should be a red flag to everyone around the league. The franchise and the surrounding community love this guy.
Steelers president Art Rooney II told Steelers.com on Wednesday:
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. 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.
Does this mean the end of Ward's career?
Ward was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 1998 NFL draft. The Georgia product went on to set team records in receptions (1,000), receiving yards (12,083), receiving touchdowns (85) and 100-yard receiving games (29).
Ward joins Jerry Rice as the only other player in NFL history to have posted 1,000 catches and won multiple Super Bowls in his career.