Jets vs. Steelers: Is Hines Ward the Dirtiest Player in the NFL?
The Jets are talking again this week leading up to the AFC Championship game against the Steelers and their target is Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward.
New York cornerback Antonio Cromartie has some choice words for Ward.
“I know for a fact that he will hit you while you’re not looking,” Cromartie said. “I don’t think he’s man enough to hit you while you’re looking at him.”
Jets' defensive coordinator Mike Pettine added to the sentiment. “Our guys I think called him the toughest guy in the league when nobody’s looking,” Pettine said. “I think our guys have played against them enough to know what he’s all about."
Obviously the Jets think Ward is a dirty player, but is he the dirtiest player in the NFL?
Let us know what you think.
Hines Ward does get a lot of attention for his actions on the field, but he rarely does things to draw flags or even fines.
Ward was only fined a handful of times in 2010 and although getting a few personal foul penalties, most of them were for late hits, not illegal hits.
I know it was a few years ago, but during Keith Rivers rookie season, Hines Ward made it a short season when he made a devastating blind-side block on the first-rounder, breaking Rivers' jaw.
While the hit was not penalized, it did cause an NFL rule change against types of blocks that receivers can use on defensive players.
Some people call Hines Ward dirty, but he would hope that people would say that he plays hard.
"Good blocker. Class player. Physical player," said one general manager. "I want more guys like him. He's the consummate pro."
Ward just wants to make sure that he gets the first shot in. "I'm not going to wait around until you hit me," Ward said.
Steelers fans would say that Ward is playing hard, other people might disagree, calling him a cheap shot artist.
“We saw some of those plays, like in the Ravens game, he’s out there hitting Dawan Landry in the back, he came across and hit Ray Lewis in the back,” Jets' safety Eric Smith said.
“Ed Reed was 30 yards downfield and he’s going down and hitting him. It’s just unnecessary things like that that make you mad as a defender.”
While playing receiver, guys have a tendency to get lit up when going over the middle. Ward just wants to make it clear to opponents that he can dish it out as well as take it.
"It's hard to sit there and tell everybody it's a violent sport but tone it down a little. When I go across the middle, those guys aren't going to tackle me softly and lay me down to the ground. That's not football.
"I find it ironic that now you see a receiver delivering blows, and it's an issue. But I haven't changed. I've been doing it this way for 11 years," Ward said.
After Hines Ward's block on Keith Rivers broke the linebacker's jaw, the NFL passed a new rule mandating blocking tactics.
The so-called "Hines Ward Rule" made it illegal for offensive players to lead with the head or helmet on blindside blocks, targeting a defender's head or neck area.
I mean come on, if you have a rule named after you for doing something considered dirty, that makes you a dirty player.
The difference between Hines Ward and most other players considered dirty is that Ward is rarely making the "dirty" plays maliciously.
Obviously I am not saying Ward is going to help someone up that he knocks down, but he isn't the kind of guy who is going to try and hurt opponents.
And look at that smile. He is just having fun!
Cortland Finnegan is someone I consider to be a lot more dirty than Hines Ward. However, Finnegan has stated that he hopes to one day be considered as dirty as Ward.
“(Ward) was voted the league’s dirtiest player, so you’ve got to give it up for him," Finnegan said. "I’m number [six] right now, but I’m aspiring to one day hopefully be No. 1.”
Hines Ward couldn't possibly be the dirtiest player in the NFL because he isn't even the dirtiest player on his team.
Watch James Harrison in any game and his goal is to not only win the game but he also wants to take someone's head off.
In 2009 Sports Illustrated released a poll were NFL players picked who they thought the dirtiest player in the NFL was. Hines Ward was voted as the dirtiest player by his peers.
Of the 296 players who voted, Ward was named on 11.6% of the ballots. Behind him were Albert Haynesworth, Joey Porter, Roy Williams and Kevin Mawae.
While it is difficult to say whether Hines Ward is the dirtiest player in the NFL, he is certainly up there.
While he calls it playing hard, there is really a fine line between playing hard and playing dirty. I think Ward crosses that line a fair amount.
The fact that he was named the NFL's dirtiest players by his peers is a huge indictment.