Hines Ward Press Conference Transcript Wednesday Super Bowl XLV

Hines ward Press Conference Transcript Wednesday February 2nd Super Bowl XLV

QUOTES FROM PITTSBURGH STEELERS PRESS CONFERENCE

WIDE RECEIVER HINES WARD

(on which position group needs to play well in order for the Steelers to win) “The offensive line. It’s always been the offensive line. It always started with those guys, because regardless if wide receivers are getting open, if those guys aren’t giving Ben (Roethlisberger) enough time to do his thing, then we’re not even a factor. So each and every game, we always go out and say it’s up to our offensive line to make plays for us.”

(on the key to the success of Pittsburgh’s young wide receivers) “Just confidence that they can play this game. Earlier this year, I was getting a lot of bracket coverage. A lot of teams were just playing press man-to-man, leaving Mike (Wallace) out there one-on-one, and I think he proved to a lot of people in this league that he can be a special, dynamic player based on his speed. He just runs by guys. So now, a lot of teams are doubling Mike and myself, and Emmanuel Sanders is getting a lot of opportunities, and he’s stepped up big each time we’ve called his number. With those guys, the more and more the season went on, the more and more they gained confidence and the more and more Ben had confidence in them to make plays. They just stepped up each time their number was called. There’s going to be a point in this game where not only myself, but the younger guys will have to step up big and make plays, and we have all the confidence in the world that they’ll do it.”

(on the key to the Steelers’ ongoing success) “It’s stability. Don’t overreact if you have a down year. In the past, it seems like once you hit 30, you’re kind of done with football. I remember when Rod Woodson blew his knee out, and he went on to play and had five or six more good years in him, and it kind of hurt them (the Rooney family) for not really sticking with Rod and letting him go. But coming into this past, maybe five or six years when Coach (Mike) Tomlin took over, we kind of kept our core veteran guys around like myself, James Farrior and the other guys. We’re still out there producing, but at the same time, the leadership growing. You can’t replace that. You lose a guy like (Alan) Faneca or Joey Porter, but yet you keep guys like myself, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, you keep those guys around and we’re still the catalysts of this team. I think over the years, they just do a great job of keeping the veteran guys and building through the draft. We’re really not going to go out in free agency and pay high money to bring somebody in. We like to stay within, and that’s just always been the case.”

(on the Rooney family’s interaction with the football team) “They don’t get all involved in the coaching things. They let the coaches be, but still oversee what’s going on, but still don’t have a high input. They know what’s going on, but you’re never going to see them out on the field telling the coaches what to do and stuff like that.”

(on the Steelers’ ability to rely on so many young wide receivers) “I don’t know. I just try to spread my knowledge to these guys about the game. The first Super Bowl, it was (Antwan) Randle-El and myself; and the second Super Bowl, it was Santonio (Holmes) and myself; and now playing in a third Super Bowl, it’s Mike Wallace. Me and Mike will be out there together. I’m very blessed to be able to still play at a high level in these type of games, but when those guys leave, I’m a huge fan of theirs. I’ve always been very supportive and kept in contact with a lot of the guys that have left here, so I feel good – like a big brother who watches his little brothers grow and develop into their own and become superstars.”

(on what he has taught the young wide receivers about playing with Ben Roethlisberger) “I just kind of tell them you’ve got to make adjustments. You’ve got to run your route full-speed. Sometimes with Ben, either he’ll break the protection down, or we don’t protect it right and he escapes right to his left, but we all have to be on the same page. I remember earlier in the season, Emmanuel and I were in the same spot, and we can’t do that. We have to pick how we’re going to break our routes off and make sure we have receivers on three different levels. I think throughout the whole year, we’ve done a great job of doing that, and it went all the way down to that in the (New York) Jets game in the AFC Championship. He rolls right, I was the primary target, and then the next thing you know, here comes Antonio Brown getting into his vision, and Ben saw him out of the corner of his eye and he went down and made a huge third-down conversion that sealed the game.”

(on the Pittsburgh coaches’ willingness to stick with the young wide receivers this year) “That’s who Ben is. That’s who we’re going to get. All these young guys, we’ve just got to work through it and we’ll find a way. Here we are in the AFC Championship Game, so we aren’t going to change anything. We’re going to continue doing what we’ve been doing all year and go from there.”

(on the Rooney family hiring Mike Tomlin) “The Mike Tomlin pick, it came out of left field. Nobody expected that. We thought we were going to hire within, probably Russ (Grimm). That’s what a lot of players thought. When they named Mike Tomlin, a lot of people really didn’t know Mike Tomlin. When he first got there, he was very militant. I remember making guys wear certain things. There were some veteran guys that challenged his authority, and they’re no longer here. At the same time, the guys that he kept, we bought into his belief and his system. They don’t give a coaching rule or a coaching book on how to be a head coach. The first year, I remember two-a-days, we were full pads the whole time in training camp, and by the time that we made it to the playoff game against Jacksonville, we were a beat-up team. Then he adjusted on the run. Once I think he saw the type of players he had on his team on a day-to-day basis and knows how we practice, how we get through the week of preparation, he started to cut back a little bit. He’s not going to drive everybody into the ground. He just started the 30-year-old guys, giving them the week off, but at the same time getting some nice work with the young guys to let them develop. It’s just great, because in case one of your starters goes down, now the backup has some practice time and he’s got some good practice time in, so he feels comfortable when he gets his opportunity.”

(on adjusting to the surroundings once the team arrives in the Super Bowl host city) “It’s different. I especially wasn’t expecting the bad weather here. Trying to go around, I don’t think Fort Worth is as prepared for the snow, as opposed to Pittsburgh. But there is an adjustment period. I think a lot of guys for us, we got there Monday and enjoyed the festivities. Tuesday is kind of our day off and the big media day, and that was the first time for us – for all of our players – in the stadium itself, so you get caught up in that. Wednesday, then it’s time to get back and the reason why we’re here is to try and win this game. So there is an adjustment period, but at the same time, it’s still exciting to be here. I talked to the wide receivers this morning, just hearing all the stories, ‘I can’t believe it. I’m here!’ That’s a special feeling. I’m just trying to tell the guys you’ve got to treat this week of preparation, we’ve got to get extremely more detailed. We can’t have an, ‘Oh, my bad,’ or, ‘I saw this. I did this.’ We’ve got to be very sharp in our preparation this week, and that way, it carries over to the Super Bowl.”

(on how defenses have changed their approach to the Steelers without Santonio Holmes) “Earlier, I was getting a lot of bracket coverage and Mike had some huge opportunities to make plays. Ben started to develop a rapport with Mike. The more and more Mike started making plays, the more and more it started to open up things for me. I think it just goes to show, Mike had 60 catches, I had 59 catches, so we’re right there neck-and-neck, so who knows? You can’t play a lot of Cover 2, because then you should be able to run the ball. With Mendenhall going over 1,000 yards, when we get single high (safety), we like to take advantage of that and exploit some of that and give guys opportunities to make plays.”

(on James Farrior’s pregame speeches to the team) “There’s nothing like it. James has always been our vocal and emotional leader out on the field. He gets guys fired up, and you need a guy like that, regardless. Even at practice, you may be feeling kind of sluggish around, but James is the guy who picks you up and gets you going. Every time we break the locker room, he always gives us an emotional speech, and we love him. We love him to death and he’s well-respected in our locker room.”

(on whether this might represent the last chance for some of the veteran players) “No, we’re not worried. We’re just playing this game. We’re not worrying about what happens afterwards. It’s a whole bigger issue than us after this game. So is this the last run? Why would it be the last run? For us, we’re just playing this game. We’re not worrying about what happens next year, what happens three years from now. We have a huge opportunity to win our third Super Bowl, and we’re trying to come down here and make the most of it and see if we can bring our seventh Super Bowl back to Pittsburgh.”

(on offensive coordinator Bruce Arians’ ability to keep everyone involved on offense) “You look at it, and B.A. does a wonderful job of getting guys involved. We’ve got so many players that, as wide receivers, we all want the ball. There’s no question about that. We wouldn’t be the type of players we are if we didn’t want it, but at the same time you’ve got to have a bunch of unselfish guys that do a lot of different things, including myself, Heath Miller, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, (Antwan) Randle-El. There’s only one ball for everybody, so we can’t get caught up in the statistics of things. At the same time, it’s the big picture of things. I think we do a great job of doing that with all the guys, and Bruce Arians, week in and week out, will find ways to put guys in the best position to make plays.”

(on Antonio Brown’s development) “I love him. I’m not surprised. He was always full of talent. It was just a matter of learning the system. We put him in there sporadically just to make sure that we don’t give him too much, but he has enough that he can go out there and have an effect on the game. Week in and week out, I try to tell those young guys, ‘Let’s take a step forward. Let’s get better.’ I remember he went through a hard week one time and he messed up and all the coaches were yelling at him and stuff, and he kind of got down on himself. I was like, ‘I’m not perfect. I mess up. I might miss a play on the field.’ But you have to move on. Nobody plays this game perfect, so if you come close to playing perfect, then you’ll be alright.”

(on getting back into a regular game-week routine on Wednesday) “I think a lot of guys yesterday were getting massaged, getting treatment, and really preparing. This is the first day of practice for us, so a lot of guys are excited about it, just to get back together. The media stuff and all the attention now is for the guys who aren’t playing. All the sponsors are throwing parties and stuff, but for us, we’ve been down this road before. We’re singularly focused on just having a great week of preparation to prepare for this game.”

(on what Lynn Swann and John Stallworth mean to him) “What do they mean to me? They epitomize what the Steelers wide receiver is all about. I’ve been very blessed to be in a great organization, much less surpass the guys or have my named mentioned with Swann and Stallworth. It’s a big honor. Those guys won four Super Bowls; I have an opportunity to win three. I’m very excited for that opportunity, but it’s a big honor to have my name mentioned with Swann and Stallworth.”

(on whether he has tried a different helmet to try and avoid concussions) “In training camp, I did change to a new helmet. I don’t even know what the helmet was called. We played the New York Giants in preseason and a great friend, a Georgia alumnus, David Ware, had a pretty big hit and I was coming off the field on special teams and I looked down and he had the same identical helmet that I did. I was like, ‘Well, that helmet didn’t work.’ If it’s your time, it’s your time. It doesn’t matter what helmet they put us in. This game is a violent sport. When you go out and you play hard and you have two grown men running 4.4, 4.5 at each other, your brain is going to rattle somewhat. It’s a sensitive subject. I don’t want to get down on people who have concussions, but, at the same time, there’s nothing you can do to prevent this game of football, unless you take the helmet off, to play this game. It’s a violent game. We know what we signed up for. We don’t have to play, but we make millions of dollars to go out here and sacrifice our bodies, and we know probably more than 90 percent of the guys will have issues after they’re done playing football. We understand that.”

(on the NFL’s increased emphasis on player safety this season) “We do want to protect and have more safety in our game. The problem is that you put a new rule in midway through the season. A lot of guys can’t adjust to that. We’ve been hitting this way, and our body and our mindset has been trained one way from our whole lives, and then to implement it probably Week 3, Week 4 of the season, it’s kind of hard to do. Guys like James Harrison get fined over $100,000 for making some hits that he thought were legitimate hits. It’s kind of unfair sometimes. We always have James’ back, and Coach Tomlin always says, ‘Just keep playing.’ He’s apologized for the fines, but if you don’t play the way you’re playing, then you’re cheating yourself and you’re cheating your teammates.”

(on whether the Packers secondary is the best the Steelers have faced this season) “No, the New York Jets had the best tandem. The Packers, no disrespect to them, they do have a great secondary, but I think (Darrelle) Revis and (Antonio) Cromartie, those two cornerbacks – I don’t know what your opinion is, but they’re the best tandem of cornerbacks out there. But Green Bay does have a great secondary. Week in and week out, we’ve faced some great secondaries. We know it’s going to be a great challenge coming into this game. It’s not about us and the secondary. It’s just about us as the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers.”

(on whether he knows of any players in favor of an 18-game schedule) “No. Nobody that I’ve talked to wants to do it. Even if they say the pay, you still get paid for two extra games, that’s not good money. All money is not good money. Guys don’t want to jeopardize their health issue for two more game checks.”

(on the effect playing two additional regular-season games a year would have on players’ bodies) “It just cuts everybody’s careers down maybe two or three more years. That’s what’ll happen, and that’s why I get so heated because you talk about player safety, but you’re not looking at the whole big picture. You’re trying to add two more games based off revenues. You want to get more revenues. This game is already the most popular game as it is. Just leave it alone. Every year, it’s a money-driven business. Year in and year out, you see revenues getting higher and higher. What’s wrong with it? Don’t let greed overcome the issues with player safety and health.”

(on whether it means anything to possibly trade two preseason games for two additional regular-season games) “It does mean a lot. Just leave it like it is, because it’s an opportunity for young guys. That’s how I started in the League. If you’re on that borderline from getting cut, you need four games. At the same time, as a starter, you don’t have to play every game. You can just get your feet wet a little bit, and we know the third preseason game is really our time. The fourth preseason game, you want to try to cut down to the top 53 guys and make a roster. It’s perfect the way it is. The OTAs and all that stuff, you can eliminate. Who created two-a-days? That’s the worst. I don’t know who created two-a-days, but all I keep seeing is, the first two or three days, somebody getting injured on our team. You’re already going into the season with a nagging hamstring problem because of two-a-days. If you have a OTAs, just have one. We can give you one practice a day, every day, but to do two? That’s grueling on anybody, to go out here and put on shoulder pads, to do it in heat and all that. Two-a-days were for when they didn’t have OTAs and guys were working during the offseason and come back. You used two-a-days to get yourself in shape. Nowadays, athletes are training all year long.”

(on Dan Rooney being the only owner to speak out against an 18-game schedule) “He’s just speaking what we really feel about it. Nobody really wants 18 games. He doesn’t even want it. He doesn’t care about that extra half-million or whatever money they make for those two extra games. He worries about his players and their safety. If you want to talk about players and safety, then don’t talk about adding two more games. That’s when you’re being contradictory. I’m scratching my head. You’re talking about concussions and safety and all that, but yet you’re talking about adding two more regular season games that count. You’re not saying two more preseason games. You’re saying two more regular season. Right now, we’d just be getting into the playoffs. There’s no way your body can go through all that in an 18-game season without adding roster spots and stuff like that. Those two extra game checks the players get, it’s not worth playing two more extra games.”

(on whether the Steelers can be considered a dynasty) “With free agents, every year, there’s a different makeup of teams. You look at teams when I was growing up, San Francisco was a dynasty, the Cowboys, of course the team in the 70’s with the Steelers, but they didn’t have free agency at the time, so that team was locked in together, just a bunch of great players. Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Fran, and then now recently, the New England Patriots, to go on a run like they did. But we’re right there with them. We just don’t have the hardware to show them. We’ve been in some AFC Championship Games and fell short a couple times, but I think if we win this year, you have to put this organization down as being one of the dynasties in the 2000’s. We know what’s at stake, but for us, it’s another opportunity to win the Super Bowl. We’re 2-0 in the Super Bowl and we don’t want to experience the other side, so we’re working our tails off to try to make sure we win this game.”

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.