(Photos courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
Talk of Fame Network
Hines Ward or Antonio Brown?
That’s the question we posed to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, and, not so surprisingly, he steered a neutral course. But in trying to answer he did contrast his two best receivers, telling us what makes each distinctive.
“I think if you look back at what Hines has done … he did it all,” said Roethlisberger. “He wasn’t going to be flashy, and he wasn’t going to beat you with speed. Maybe he did earlier in his career a little bit, (but) he was going to do whatever was necessary to win the football game – (even if it meant) to block. He may only have had five catches for 15 yards, but four of them were for first downs and the other one was for a touchdown. He just knew how to play the game and to play it smart.
“With Antonio, it’s flashy. I mean everything he does is spectacular. You get the ball in his hands – it could be a one-yard pass – and he can turn it into 50, 60 or 70 in a flash. Now, he may not do all the little things Hines can do with the blocking — he’s trying to get better — but he’s going to put up unbelievable numbers. I don’t know if I could pick one over the other, but I’ve been around Antonio for a long time, and the things he does on the football field … catching the football … are pretty spectacular.”
So, as Roethlisberger mentioned, were the things Ward could do on the field. He went to three Super Bowls with Roethlisberger, winning two of them and named a Super Bowl MVP, and now becomes a Hall-of-Fame candidate for the Class of 2017. Ward will have plenty of competition within his own class, including running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor, but Roethlisberger made it clear why he thinks Ward belongs in Canton.
“If you turn on a football game or think Pittsburgh Steelers, there a few (players you think of),” he said. “Obviously, the 70s’ dynasty and those guys – the Mel Blounts, the Joe Greenes, the Franco Harrises and (Terry) Bradshaw. Those guys obviously (are thought of) as Pittsburgh Steelers. But when you’re talking modern day you’re thinking Jerome Bettis. You’re thinking Hines Ward. You’re thinking Troy Polamalu — guys that epitomized the Pittsburgh Steelers; guys that epitomized the toughness that is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“(Ward) was never really flashy, but he got the job done. He wasn’t afraid to stick his nose in there to block a linebacker if need be … a defensive end … if it helped a running back score a touchdown. So, for me, it was about the toughness and, obviously, being the leader in so many categories receiving.
“I just think (it was about) everything he brought to the game and the knowledge he brought to the football field, knowing and understanding defensive concepts and routes. If it was third-and-four, he was going to get 4.1 if he had to. Just enough to get the first down because he understood the game of football.”