For his career, Ward finished with an even 1,000 receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl four times and was a two-time Super Bowl champion. Beyond his numbers, he was known as one of the toughest players in the game, making just as much of an impact blocking as catching balls down the field.
Ward's persona will stand at Heinz Field long after his retirement. He had an infectious smile he even wore on game day. He would take a nasty hit up the middle, then get back up and start smiling. That is who Ward was, and he will forever be remembered for it.
For Steelers fans, in particular, this is a sad day. Ward had become such an integral part of the franchise throughout the years. He spent his entire career with the Steelers, something virtually unheard of in today's sports world. He was just as good a teammate as a professional football player.
In the end, Ward's career didn't end with a Super Bowl title. He was actually released by the Steelers on Feb. 29, despite offering to take a pay cut to remain in Pittsburgh.
"This isn't how I wanted this chapter of my career to end," Ward said in a statement after his release. "I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I started here 14 years ago."
But by retiring, the 36-year-old will go out as a Steeler...and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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