Today, Steeler Nation proudly looked on as one of its greats, Hines Ward, tearfully announced that he was hanging 'em up. Steelers fans that cried along with Hines Ward, were doing so not out of sadness due to missing the things he brought to the field, but out of respect and love for what he used to do on it.
For fans, it is hard to watch former stars plod along as a shell of their former selves. For players, it is even harder to believe that the day has finally come when they can no longer effectively play the game they love.
Hines Ward walked off into the sunset as he walked away from the podium after his press conference. His decision to do this, instead of play out the string as a sideshow for some other NFL franchise, spoke to his loyalty to the Steeler organization and his own sense of self respect.
Ward, however, like many players before him, didn't want to hang 'em up. He was forced to look at his options after being released by the Steelers. Instead of taking a deal somewhere else, he decided to leave his legacy in Pittsburgh.
Many other veterans are in this position as well this offseason. They should follow Hines Ward's example and retire.