Hines Ward: Why Retired Pittsburgh Steelers Receiver Is Not a Hall of Famer
Hines Ward will not be a Hall of Famer anytime soon.
He announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday after a great 14-year career playing receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. On the same day Peyton Manning was being introduced as the new quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Ward emotionally declared he could not see himself wearing any other uniform than that of the Steelers'.
Where does his career rank among the all-time greats who have played the game?
Super Bowl MVP, four-time Pro Bowler, and over 1,000 career catches make for quite an impressive resume. Although his career was far above average, it will likely not be enough translate to a Hall of Fame jacket in Canton, Ohio.
Here are three large obstacles that stand between him and the Hall of Fame.
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Hines Ward may have been one of the greatest blocking receivers of all time.
I intentionally left some ambiguity to the statement since there are no numbers in which we can see where he stands among other receivers in that regard. It is simply an accepted accolade that although very well may be true is a subjective measurement in a voting process based on objective statistics.
Unfortunately, what this means for Ward is that one of the key aspects that sets his game apart from his peers makes it hard to effectively gauge his greatness.
Backlog of Existing Candidates
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The Hall of Fame has a long list of eligible candidates each year waiting for the phone to ring. Household names like Cris Carter, Bill Parcells and Hines Ward's former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Jerome Bettis are among those candidates without jackets.
With a limit of only five modern-era nominees who can be elected each year, it will take time to work through a list that will add new names each year including Brett Favre, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp in the coming years.
Also, wide receiver is not an easy position to make it to the Hall of Fame.
Art Monk, Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice are the only receivers in the Hall of Fame with careers starting after 1980.
If Carter has gone five years without being elected, Ward will wait at least a decade to even be considered. Especially when Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss' names get added to an already long list of candidates that will only continue to grow.
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Fans of Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a laundry list of statistics to support their case that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. His 1,000 career receptions, 12,083 receiving yards, 85 receiving touchdowns, two Super Bowl titles and Super Bowl MVP sure sound worthy of enshrinement.
Initially, I agreed that his candidacy will be a no-brainer. Then I looked deeper into those statistics.
Ward is eighth all time in receptions, 18th in receiving yards, and tied for 13th in receiving touchdowns.
Again, on the surface it seems like a lock for enshrinement until you realize that in each category the majority of players above him have two things in common. They played in the same era as Ward, and they aren't in the Hall of Fame. This is important because although his numbers are above the average NFL receiver, they are not at the top of his peers when he played.
During his retirement speech Ward said he couldn't see himself in another uniform, and unfortunately it seems that would include a Hall of Fame jacket.
Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.