Ward spent his entire career with the Steelers organization, which spanned from 1998 to 2011. He led Pittsburgh to championship rings in the 2005 and 2008 seasons, even winning Super Bowl 40 MVP honors in the team’s win over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Georgia product was named to four Pro Bowls, and he earned a trio of Second-team All-Pro nods. His excellent career totals of 1,000 receptions, 12,083 receiving yards and 85 touchdowns are considerably higher than plenty of other former receivers in Canton, too.
Ward has seen a fair share of former Steelers land in Canton since his retirement, including former head coach Bill Cowher, safety Troy Polamalu, running back Jerome Bettis and Alan Faneca.
So, why isn’t Ward himself enshrined in Canton? The 46-year-old revealed an interesting explanation why during an interview with CBS Sports:
“The feedback, or what I’ve been hearing, is that, ‘Well, you’re (weren’t) an All-Pro.’ “Well, I wasn’t in an offense to be an All-Pro. We had All-Pro offensive linemen and we had All-Pro running backs because that’s what our offense was.”
Ward also disagreed with the suggestion from current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin that if he had won that third Super Bowl with Pittsburgh in the 2010 season, the longtime fan favorite would be in the Hall:
“I don’t think I should have to win three Super Bowls. Most people don’t have one and they’re in the Hall, so you’re saying I have to climb the mountain to win three just to get a bid? For whatever reason, it is what it is.”
Ward may not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (yet), but he has received two special honors from the Steelers organization. They named him to the franchise’s Hall of Honor in 2019, and he was voted by fans to the Steelers’ All-Time Team, with John Stallworth and Lynn Swann taking the other two wide receiver spots.
It isn’t too late for Ward to receive a call to the Hall, either. Cowher himself wasn’t inducted until 2020, 14 years after he coached his final season for the Steelers. Green Bay Packers icon Jerry Kramer last played in the 1968 season wasn’t inducted for another 50 years.
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