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Ward in it to win it

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By Scott Brown
Monday, May 16, 2011
 

Assuming Kym Johnson has recovered from a nasty spill that sent her to the hospital last week and Hines Ward continues to dazzle with his fancy footwork, a takeover of sorts may occur next week at the "Dancing With the Stars" studio.

"We're going to have a whole Steelers section," inside linebacker James Farrior said of the final episides on DWTS. "We couldn't get the Super Bowl trophy, but we're about to get that dancing trophy."

Ward has put himself in position to take home the Mirror Ball Trophy.

The Steelers wide receiver is one of four celebrities remaining on DWTS, the popular reality TV show that resumes tonight. If he is one of the three who advances to the finals, it will only be fitting that Terrible Towel-waving teammates will be among those cheering him on in person.

There have been two constants since Ward started showing a national TV audience that his good moves extend beyond the football field: lavish praise from the DWTS judges and equally generous support from his teammates.

Farrior, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Max Starks and Rashard Mendenhall are among those who have watched Ward and Johnson compete in Los Angeles. Ward said it would "mean the world" to him if he advances to next week's finals and a large Steelers contingent is a part of the audience.

"When I see my teammates take time out of their busy schedules and away from their families to come out and support me," Ward said, "it gets me more motivated and just makes me want to do my best for them. To have them there to watch me possibly win it would be an incredible feeling."

One obstacle Ward and Johnson may have to overcome is the health of the latter.

Johnson was taken to a Los Angeles hospital by ambulance last Friday after she fell and hurt her neck while rehearsing with Ward. Johnson was released from the hospital that day, and her spokesperson said the Aussie dancer has been cleared to perform tonight.

One thing could help propel Ward and Johnson to the finals even if she is hampered by the injury. Fan voting helps determine which dancers advance, and few if any teams enjoy a more rabid and widespread following than the Steelers.

"Steelers Nation alone can get him through," Farrior said. "Nobody's got more fans than him. We're going to the finals."

Even if Ward does not make the finals, he said his experience on DWTS is one he won't soon forget.

The six hours a day he has practiced on weekdays since March has helped Ward stay in shape. He said the DWTS endeavor has also kept him from thinking about the NFL lockout while providing him with a sense of accomplishment.

That's not to say Ward is happy just to get to this point. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, after all, doesn't call him a "sick competitor" for nothing.

"Of course I will be disappointed if I don't win it because I am treating this like the Super Bowl," Ward said. "I am a competitor at heart, and if I set out to do something, I do it to win."

Additional Information:

And then there were four

Here are the remaining contestants on 'Dancing With the Stars.' One couple will be eliminated Tuesday, and the remaining three will advance to the finals, which will be held next week.

Celebrity -- Professional -- Odds

Hines Ward -- Kym Johnson -- Even

Chelsea Kane -- Mark Ballas -- 5/2

Ralph Macchio -- Karina Smirnoff -- 4/1

Kirstie Alley -- Maksim Chmerkovskiy -- 6/1

Odds from America's Line

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