He plays the game unlike most receivers in the NFL by blocking hard on every play and dishing out hits that would be envied by most of the defenders he faces.
His style of play fits in perfectly for the team he plays for and the city it represents.
However, Ward is 34 years old and is starting to look a little slower. Ward had two catches for 34 yards against the New York Jets. Two games before that he had just one catch for 13 yards against the Baltimore Ravens. On the season Ward has 51 catches for 672 yards, which translates to four catches and 56 yards a game on the season.
Now I understand that Mike Wallace is the No. 1 receiver on the team, but Ward's production is not what it should be. Last year Ward had 95 receptions and 1,167 receiving yards. That's a decent drop-off. Ward is also having a lot of trouble getting open, especially in man coverage. He's dropped a few key passes this year and had a bad fumble against Cincinnati.
So the question I have to ask is, are Hines Ward's days as an effective starting receiver coming to a close? Ward is 34. He's played 13 NFL seasons and has been one of the most physical receivers in the game. It would be a miracle if his body wasn't breaking down.
With Wallace becoming a borderline "elite" receiver and the Steelers having two good-looking rookie receivers, I have to ask where Hines fits in the Steelers' future.
Ward has had a glorious career. He will be remembered as one of the Steelers' all-time greats and will almost certainly make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Also, what if there is a work stoppage next year? In the 2012 season Ward will be 36 years old. If Ward is still on the team, will he still want to start? Will he accept a lesser role with the team?
I don't want to see Ward stick around too long. If he can't perform up to his standards, he should leave the game on a good note. It would benefit him and his team to start thinking about retirement after this season.