Hines Ward completed his 1000th reception on January 1, 2012

Hines Ward completed his 1000th reception on January 1, 2012

A beloved member of Steeler Nation reached a very important milestone Sunday afternoon as Hines Ward became just the 8th player in NFL history to catch 1,000 catches. The pass caught by Hines was a shovel pass that actually ended up as a loss of 3 yards for the play. Once Hines got within the 1 catch it was clear by all who were watching the game that the focus for the offense had turned to getting Hines his 1,000th catch. Ward always said that he was a “team first” player so it was only fitting that the team repaid those years of efforts with helping him reach this prestigious level.

Just to show how prestigious this mark is for Hines, only 7 other players in NFL history have caught more than 1,000 passes and only HOF’er Jerry Rice and Ward have caught 1,000 passes and won multiple Super Bowls. The 1,000 receptions club looks like this:

Hines is the first ever Steeler on the list, given the fact that he has already basically destroyed every receiving record held for the Steelers by either Swanny or Stallworth.  You might also notice that he and Marvin Harrison are the only receivers on the list to reach the accomplishment with only 1 team. Imagining Hines with another team is almost like imagining a Pittsburgh sports team with colors other than Black & Gold. It just wouldn’t make sense.

This season I think the Pittsburgh media has been a little unfair to Hines, treating his diminished role with the offense like some kind of juicy gossip story filled with innuendos that there were problems between Ward and the organization and possibly some within the organization were against helping Ward reach his milestones of 12,000 receiving yards and 1,000 catches. They went as far as to insinuate that the Steelers final home game against the Rams might be the last time we ever see Ward play at Heinz Field. Ward currently has 2 years left on his current contract and has said multiple times that he has no plans to retire after this season. I don’t have any doubts that Hines will finish his contract and career here in Pittsburgh, I’m sure it will take some restructuring just as other veterans have been asked during the offseason to restructure their contract to allow for cap room, but Hines is still an important part of this offense and an important part of the team and city.

Only Hines could have gotten me to watch a ridiculous show like Dancing With The Stars, and even go as far as voting online to ensure his win. Hey, it was the lock-out; I was starved for anything Steelers-related. Remembering watching those horrible shows wondering when the Disney chick would get off the stage so we could see Hines shake it for us reminded me that there wasn’t a week that Hines didn’t have one of his teammates in the audience cheering him on as well. Hines’ teammates were behind him in his pursuit for that mirror-trophy thingy and they were behind him in his pursuit of 1,000 catches. Antonio Brown’s response to Hines’ milestone was, “Hopefully, it gets him to the Hall of Fame. He’s a big-timer. He deserves it.”

So congratulations, Hines. Steeler Nation loves you for your smile, your skills, your loyalty, and your ability to lay a Brownie, Bengal, or Raven out with a spectacular block.

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