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Can't Ward and Steelers just get along

| Monday, Aug. 1, 2005

I have watched the Steelers as a kid, as an adult fan, and as a member of the media, for over 40 years. If pressed to name my favorite player during that time, which includes the four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s, I would have to go with Hines Ward. I love the way he plays the game and when you toss in attitude and personality it's a no-brainer. But it's hard to side with him in a holdout situation when he has an exisiting contract.

I understand this is the only way he has bargaining power. I understand that football teams hold the trump card and have the ablility to cut a player in the middle of an existing contract. But that isn't breaking the deal, it's legal under the system and that is part of what a player buys into when he puts his name on the dotted line in the first place. If you don't like the system, hold out for a no-cut contract. Yea, that will happen. But once you sign, if your word is good, you should live up to the deal. Many say the Steelers have not made Ward the priority that they promised they would. Bull. Their offer is at least good enough to have him come to camp while negotiations continue. I'm 99% in Ward's court. He's produced. He' s been underpaid. He deserves a new deal. But he also signed the paper. That has to be worth something at some point.

  • Of course NFL deals are't the only ones that don't live up to their original promise. How about what Steve Spurrier has done at South Carolina• The new head football coach has revoked the scholarships of six players recruited by his predecessor, Lou Holtz. It angered the local high school coaches in South Carolina so much that that 90 of them sent a nasty letter to Spurrier calling the move "unethical". Now that's a smart way for Spurrier to start off his career there.

  • Next to the Ward situtation, the most interesting stories in Steeler camp are how much will they throw to top draft pick, tight end Heath Miller. And how soon they will cut Alonzo Jackson who was a terrible second round draft pick two years ago.

  • So Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi will miss the season after suffereing a stroke and now linebacker Ted Johnson has announced his retirement on the eve of training camp. Defensive end Richard Seymour is holding out and the offensive and defensive coordinators have gone elsewhere. Anybody betting on the Patriots repeating as Super Bowl Champs?

  • Mario Lemieux will celebrate his 40th birthday on opening night in October. And while 40 is young for a man and old for a hockey player, I never thought of Lemieux as old. Until I saw him pose for pictures with Sidney Crosby on Saturday.

  • Lost in the euphoria over the end of the NHL lockout is the fact that the new

    CBA's drug policy is getting ripped in Washington. The new policy allows for players to be tested a maximum of twice a year without warning. Those caught using a performance-enhancer would be suspended for 20 games for a first offense and 60 games for a second offense. A third offense could lead to a permanent ban. The House Committee on Government reform says it has serious concerns about the policy. They would like to see at least five tests a year. The worst part of the plan to me is the fact that there can be no testing on game day, during the playoffs, or during the offseason. Forget five tests. Any day is gameday in my book.

  • In case you missed it, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Owen Nolan has waited until now to have knee surgery. And he claims that since he was injured when still an active player for the Leafs, he'll seek all of the salary he missed during last year's lockout. Nolan is exactly what is wrong with professional sports these days. Here's hoping he doesn't get a single penny.

  • Larry Brown is full of it and I'm tired of him playing his health issues for sympathy. He's 65. If he can't handle the rigors of coaching in the NBA any longer then he should retire. There has never been a bigger liar in sports. He should do well in New York.

  • I'm not big on fishing but I must admit the Bassmaster Classic in town over the weekend was a refreshing change of pace. Almost to a person, all involved were a pleasure to deal with and even the top fishermen were more than approachable for both the fans and the media.

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