"We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year," Steelers team president Art Rooney II said in a statement earlier this month. "Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines' accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best."
A former third-round pick from Georgia, Ward played in Pittsburgh for 14 seasons. "Our expectations year in and year out was the Super Bowl," Ward said. "We were taught what it takes to approach practice each day to get to that one goal and win the Super Bowl. Hopefully, we left that legacy and that lasting impression on the guys behind us."
He's the Steelers' all-time leader in receptions (1,000), receiving yards (12,083), receiving touchdowns (85) and 100-yard receiving games (29).
Ward is the eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions and joined Hall of Famer Jerry Rice as the only two players in league history to post 1,000 career catches and win multiple Super Bowls.
Ward was the MVP of Super Bowl XL after leading the Steelers to a 21-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He posted a game-high 123 receiving yards on five receptions with one touchdown.
The Steelers' 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Ward was named to four Pro Bowls and was a member of the Steelers' 75th Season All-Time Team.
"This is the city of champions," Ward said. "I loved playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers."
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