Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hines Ward: Hall of Fame worthy?

On January 21 WR Hines Ward was named one of four finalists for this year's Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which "recognizes community involvement and service, as well as on-field performance." As many Steelers' fans know, in 2006 Ward established a foundation that assists bi-racial children in South Korea (where racial discrimination is apparently endemic), and has earned considerable praise for his efforts.

The nomination inspired me to consider whether Ward is worthy of a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When one considers his statistics, blocking ability, Super Bowl (SB) performance, and his "likability," I believe there's a good chance Ward will one day be elected to the Hall. A comparison to Steelers' Hall of Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth is illustrative:

To begin with, Ward already holds all of the franchise's receiving records (720 career catches for 8,741 yards and 65 TDs). Of course, Swann and Stallworth played in a different era in which the ball was thrown far less frequently. On the other hand, until the arrival of Tommy Maddox and then Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, Ward had the misfortune of playing within run-oriented offenses led by subpar QB's like Kordell Stewart.

Meanwhile, Swann and Stallworth won four SB rings each compared to just one (thus far) for Ward, although Ward did capture a Super Bowl MVP award for SB XL, much like Swann did in SB X. To date Ward has been elected to four Pro Bowls (2002-05), while Swann and Stallworth earned three berths each.

However, it's Ward's well-deserved reputation for being a great blocker and his sunny disposition that may ultimately put him over the top. A few more solid seasons and another SB ring wouldn't hurt either.

Anyone care to weigh in with further thoughts on this topic?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to re-visit this subject. I think with a second championship and another year of breaking team records. he is (not a first ballot... yet)a lock.

10:19 PM  

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