Every once in a while, a player comes along who embodies the personality and character of the organization he represents. Hines Ward is one such player.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been known as a blue-collar team. They win games by grinding it out the old-fashioned way, and they don’t put up with diva behavior. Ward, who has a resume worthy of future induction into the Hall of Fame (11,702 receiving yards, 83 touchdowns), is as blue-collar of a player as there is.
In a league full of wide receivers who think that their individual statistics are more important than the numbers in the win/loss column, Ward has remained refreshingly humble and continues to play hard on every down, whether it’s to receive, block, or be the moral leader. He never stops smiling and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body in order to take or dish out a hard hit.
In addition, his active involvement and dedication to the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation is commendable. In 2006, after a trip to his birthplace of South Korea, Ward donated an initial $1 million to the foundation “to help mixed-race children like himself in South Korea, where they have suffered discrimination.”
During a press conference before he returned home, Ward said, “I will make the struggle to end bi-racial discrimination my chief cause, for which I will devote my time and resources, both in the United States and Korea.”
His Helping Hands U.S. Foundation “focuses on improving literacy among children and will provide programs and services to better equip them for achieving and handling success in life.”
Thus, I have decided to sponsor VoteforHines.com in honor of his upcoming appearance on “Dancing with the Stars”. Ward has long been one of my favorite players on the team; I hope every Steelers fan feels the same way and participates in the voting process.
Season 12 of “DWTS” will feature Ward with professional dancer Kym Johnson; Johnson won the competition with Donny Osmond in Season 9 and finished in second place with Warren Sapp in Season 7 and Joey Fatone in Season 4.
Ward agreed to compete because “it looks extremely challenging” and said, “I am always up for a good challenge and would love to see what I can do in a field completely foreign to me. Besides, if Emmitt (Emmitt Smith won in Season 3) and Jerry (Jerry Rice finished second in Season 2) can do it, so can I.”
Each contestant pair will be given a score by three judges (worth 50 percent of total score). The audience and fans can then vote for their favorite contestant pair (worth 50 percent of total score). The couple who receives the lowest combined total score will be eliminated each week until only the champion pair remains.
Ward has already shown off his dancing skills with a fantastic rendition of the John Wall dance after a catch on Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals last season. Bookmakers have certainly taken notice; Ward and fellow contestant Chelsea Kane are 4:1 favorites to win the competition.
Please support Ward throughout the show so we can help him make that final push for victory by calling 1-800-VOTE403 or registering to vote online at ABC.com. Also, be sure to follow him on Twitter @mvp86hinesward and tweet using the hashtag #VoteForHines.
Good luck, Hines! We’re behind you all the way.