If you are reading this column, chances are you really don’t like Hines Ward. You might respect him, you might even like him if he was on your team but since he’s not, it’s really easy to hate on Ward.
He plays hard, he’s a solid team player, supports his coach and counsels struggling teammates and he is about as indestructible of a receiver as there is in the NFL particularly when you consider his physical style of play. He’s on the opposite end of the receiver spectrum from former Raven Clarence Moore.
But Ward walks a fine line and pushes the envelope of what is legal and steps well beyond the boundaries of sportsmanship.
Defensive players are fined when they intentionally hit a defenseless opponent. Sometimes they are fined if they inadvertently crush an offensive player (see Anquan Boldin). Yet time and time again, Hines Ward runs past defenders to feign a pass route only to come back and blindside them on running plays.
Is the NFL suggesting that defenders are less important by not penalizing such actions? Is the competition committee condoning “Jacked Up” defenders but not receivers crossing the middle?
It would be one thing if Ward was guilty of the blind side shot once or twice but this has become as big a part of the Steelers’ offensive attack as cut blocking is to the Denver Broncos. It blurs the lines of legality and it threatens careers.
What if Ward crushes Bart Scott again and blows out his knee? How many teams do you think will line up to sign Scott when he becomes a free agent? How does that impact his ability to support his family? What if Ward blindsides Ed Reed again and the neck and shoulder nerve impingement becomes so severe that he is forced into retirement?
These players need to get the cash while it’s available to them and that is a small window. That’s why it is no surprise to hear Terrell Suggs state that the Ravens have an open bounty on the head of Ward.
ProFootballTalk.com has received an audio tape of the interview heard on the syndicated sports talk show 2 Live Stews. During the interview, Suggs fires two missiles. The first has to do with the bounty on Ward that according to PFT was put in play when the Ravens traveled to Heinz Field on September 29.
Might the “alleged” bounty have influenced Jarret Johnson’s personal foul on Ward out of bounds on the Ravens’ sideline?
The bounty remains outstanding and it will undoubtedly provide bulletin board material and edgy game officials when the Steelers visit on December 14. When they do according to PFT, Suggs said, “We’ve got something in store for [Ward].”
The other missile fired by Suggs during this interview has to do with Ravens’ starting quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco according to Suggs, “should get some playing time, but I think
Whether or not Flacco should be the starter is certainly a debatable topic. I’m of the opinion that he should remain the starter and the team should build towards the post season in 2009. Besides at this point, who knows where Troy Smith will be next season? The club’s investment is in Flacco.
But all that aside, the Ravens have an opportunity to move to 4-3 this weekend when they take on the Raiders at home. The team then moves on to road games against the Browns, Texans and Giants which really elevates the importance of this weekend’s game against
Do the Ravens need these distractions perpetuated by Suggs?
In case you are wondering, bounties are illegal in the NFL. Surely Roger Goodell is listening and Suggs’ comment could bring unnecessary attention and become a major distraction during game preparation for both the players and coaches. And Suggs wonders why the league and its officials might be a little twitchy with the yellow laundry as it relates to the Ravens?
Is Suggs really this dumb?
Isn’t publicly admitting on sports talk radio that there was/is a bounty on Ward akin to describing the sexual preferences of your ex-girlfriend with your wife?
And to make matters worse, might Suggs’ comments about Troy Smith undermine Flacco’s progress? Might his thoughtless blathering create a divide in the locker room just when it appears that the offense is beginning to take shape?
And this guy has a radio show?
I bet the PR staff at
1 Winning Drive
Who knows, maybe he’s trying to force the hand of Ozzie Newsome and he really doesn’t want to return to
He just might get his wish.
Or worse, he might get it from Hines Ward.