Hines Ward listens to a question after announcing his retirement from the… (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)
Hines Ward announced his retirement Tuesday after 14 years in the NFL, all as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That means he'll be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in five years. But should he get in?
Ward was a receiver known as much for the ferocious hits he delivered as the catches he made ... and, of course, the huge smile that was always on his face while doing both.
Opponents hated him and often called him a dirty player. The NFL passed the so-called "Hines Ward rule" after one of his blocks broke the jaw of Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers during the 2008 season.
Ward has always been a fan favorite in Pittsburgh but has become a household name nationwide in recent years. He played in three Super Bowls and is a two-time champion, earning one Super Bowl MVP along the way. (Oh, and there's also the Mirrorball Trophy he won last year on "Dancing With the Stars," although the voters in Canton, Ohio, probably won't care too much about that.)
He owns just about every receiving record for the Steelers, a team whose roster once included Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. His 1,000 career receptions are the eighth most in league history, and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is the only other player to ever have at least that many receptions and win multiple Super Bowls.
But Ward isn't quite as high on other statistical lists. His 12,083 yards put him at 18th all-time and his 85 touchdown receptions have him tied for 13th -- and those numbers pale in comparison to those of receivers such as Cris Carter and Tim Brown, both of whom are still waiting for the call from Canton.
What do you think? Does Hines Ward belong in the Hall of Fame? Vote in the poll, then leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did.