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Steelers great Hines Ward continuing coaching career in XFL
Hines Ward ended his 14-year NFL career as a two-time Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl XL MVP. (Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports)

Steelers great Hines Ward continuing coaching career in XFL

PITTSBURGH (BVM) – It’s no surprise that Hines Ward’s passion for the game has continued in his post-playing career as the former Pittsburgh Steelers great has found a way to fuel his love of football from the sidelines. 

Today, the former Super Bowl MVP finds himself preparing for the upcoming XFL season in 2023, where he will coach the San Antonio franchise during the spring. Featuring as part of NFL and collegiate coaching staffs over the past few seasons, Ward will get his first chance at leading a full squad. With more than three decades worth of football experience, the longtime NFL wideout has more than enough knowledge to pass on to his current players as he looks to jumpstart his newest journey.

Hines Ward’s early life, collegiate career

Growing up in Georgia, Ward attended Forest Park High School in the early 1990s where he shined early on as a quarterback. During his time leading the Panthers, Ward secured the Clayton County Offensive Player of the Year twice while splitting time in the spring on the baseball diamond. As a two-sport star, Ward was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 73rd round of the 1994 MLB Draft following his senior high school season, but the Forest Park standout decided to pursue football, choosing to attend the University of Georgia.

Opening his career in Athens as more of a running back and quarterback option, Ward totaled 673 yards on the ground in his first two seasons, while passing for 872 yards during his sophomore season. With time spent sparingly outside at wide receiver throughout his four years with the program, the primary switch to the position came during his junior campaign as Ward racked up 52 catches for 900 yards. It would continue into his senior season as the Bulldogs star accounted for 938 yards from scrimmage as both a tailback and wideout.

Hines Ward Georgia
Georgia Bulldogs receiver Hines Ward (19) in action against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. (Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports)

Hines Ward’s NFL career

Ward’s position flexibility proved to be valuable at the collegiate level but teams in the NFL had their focus on the incoming playmaker as strictly a wide receiver. During the 1998 NFL Draft, Ward was selected with the 92nd overall pick in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Georgia product would have a slow lead up to his first three seasons, topping just over 600 yards in two of his first three campaigns. 

Ward’s rise to the top of the Steelers target share came in 2001, as the 6-foot, 205-pound wideout racked up his first career 1,000-yard season as the Steelers raced out to a 13-3 record. The campaign would start a run of four straight Pro Bowl appearances for the Steelers wideout as he totaled 1,000-yard seasons from 2001-2004. Along with his Pro Bowl nods, Ward would be voted onto the All-Pro second team for three straight seasons. 

His standout play correlated with the Steelers’ Super Bowl aspirations at the time, as Ward helped Pittsburgh to a 15-1 season in 2004 following his growing connection with then rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The breakout regular season wouldn’t quite give them enough to push through in the postseason, bowing out in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots.

Hines Ward Super Bowl XL
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy and his son Jaden after Super Bowl XL at Ford Field. Pittsburgh won 21-10 over the Seattle Seahawks. (Credit: Joe Robbins-USA TODAY Sports)

The following year, however, would lead to the success Ward and his teammates had been working towards. Behind 975 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, Ward and the Steelers entered the postseason winning their final four regular season games. After beating the Cincinnati Bengals in an opening Wild Card matchup, Ward would go on to help lead Pittsburgh past the 14-2 Indianapolis Colts, ending Peyton Manning and the Colts dominant 2005 season. A win over the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship set up the Steelers for their first Super Bowl appearance since 1995. Ward’s effort in the game would prove to be monumental as he racked up five catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in the team’s 21-10 Super Bowl XL victory, earning him Super Bowl MVP honors.

The Super Bowl winning season would create a fiveyear run for Ward and the Steelers who appeared in the final game two more times during the span. Ward helped contribute to the team’s Super Bowl win in 2009 as more of a secondary option but dominated during Super Bowl XLV in 2011 going for seven catches, 78 receiving yards and a touchdown. The effort would unfortunately not be enough as Green Bay handed Ward his first Super Bowl loss. 

Ward would go on to play just one more season, retiring following the 2011 campaign.

Hines Ward person life, coaching career and Hall of Fame case

Along with his work within the game, Ward spends time outside of the lines being a father to his three children. With his focus on the upcoming season, Ward is ready to lead the San Antonio franchise for the XFL’s first season since 2020. 

Ward has coached in recent stops serving as an offensive intern for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017, an offensive assistant for the New York Jets in 2019 and recently as a special assistant to the head coach for the Florida Atlantic Owls.

While Ward stays busy coaching, the longtime NFL wide receiver is waiting for his opportunity to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Steelers great currently sits 27th in all-time receiving yards, 14th in receptions, and is tied for 16th in receiving touchdowns. Along with his lofty resume, Ward is a two-time Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl XL MVP.

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