This is a nice interview with former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver (Super Bowl XL MVP) - and Dancing with the Stars winner (season 12) - Hines Ward, who has been making news recently as he prepared to enter his first Iron Man triathlon.
As of Saturday, 10.12.13, he successful completed his first (and apparently last) Iron Man event. I don't care what his other achievements have been, completing an Iron Man is a whole different category of pain and commitment - congratulations to Mr. Ward!
[NOTE: Belgium's Frederick Van Lierde won the 35th anniversary Iron Man in a time of 8:12:29 for the men's overall. Ward finished in a very respectable 13:08:15.]
First is a brief interview from Esquire Magazine, followed by a brief report on Ward finishing the Iron Man from NBC Sports.
The former NFL star isn't done winning
By Hines Ward
"I'm more known for Dancing with the Stars than for my fourteen years that I played."
You'd think that after fourteen years in the NFL that retired Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward would be content to take a few years off. Maybe lie on a beach, go sailing, or simply not get hit by giant men who are willfully and recklessly endangering his life for the purpose of sport. But that's not the Super Bowl XL MVP's style. Instead, Ward has followed his famed career with a victory on Dancing with the Stars as his friends and family laughed in his face. And now, with a similar level of encouragement, Ward is taking on the Iron Man triathlon today: a 140.6-mile race in Kona, Hawaii. We recently sat with Ward as he shared some words of wisdom about football, how his skills translated to the dance floor, and why a man who's never run more than a mile would choose to take on the world's most grueling race. —Interviewed by Matthew Kitchen
I wasn't close to my father growing up, but my mother and I were teammates. She couldn't help me academically because she didn't really know much about American education. It frustrated her, but what she did know is how to work her tail off. She never quit. She could have easily went back to Korea and left me here with my dad, but she worked her ass off so she was fit to be a parent. Just learning about all the sacrifices she made for me makes anything I do peanuts.
It's okay being different. I didn't ask to come into this world as a biracial kid, but I use being teased and take what society says I can't do and turn it into a positive.
I always played with a chip on my shoulder. My whole life, people told me, "Well you can't go to college. You're not smart enough." Well I went to college. I graduated college. "Well then you're not good enough to play in the NFL." Well I did that, and I played fourteen years. "Well your'e not a Pro Bowler." I made the Pro Bowl. "You'll never win a Super Bowl." I've done that, and was Super Bowl MVP.
Being told I wasn't smart still bothers me to this day.
I was baffled by commentators telling Tim Tebow he can't play football. Are you going to buy into what people say or are you going to use that as motivation to show the world you can do it? I admire that. That's what fuels the fire in everyone, and some people just don't have that fire. They accept where they are.
I love everything about football: the essence, the smell of the grass, the shoulder pads, the camaraderie in the locker room — like a band of brothers. I love the fans, the boos, the enemies, the trash talking. You can't ever find trash talking in a workplace environment.
I enjoy getting hit and I enjoy hitting people. If you ever saw me playing, I was always smiling. I got the opportunity to wake up every morning and to do something I had been dreaming about doing since I was a kid. What is there to complain about? I mean, it hurts. But I've dished out some punishment as well.
You can't live life like you're preparing to die. If it's your time, it's your time. If I sit there and worry about getting hit, about concussions, and about what it's going to be like when I'm 55 or 60, then I'm not living life.
But I'm scared of jumping out of a plane. And bungie jumping.
Growing old in the NFL is depressing. Times have changed. Fantasy football has taken off, and you've seen it bleed into the game. You put a talent at wide receiver with a talented quarterback and you have the Detroit Lions. Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are putting up huge numbers, but they're not winning games. You had a great year, but your team sucked. So what's more important?
When you hit 30 in the league, you're old. But who's to say old people can't play?
When you reach the mountain top, it's a lot easier to walk away from the game. I see so many guys, like Tony Gonzalez, who are old. But that drive to want to win still keeps them in the game.
I would love to live a life where no one knew about me or criticized anything I was doing. Everywhere I go I'm still a target. But I'm accustomed to that. I've always wanted to be known as more than just a football player, and I've used the notoriety from fourteen years to open up other doors for me to venture into.
I told my mom and coaches and teammates about Dancing with the Stars and they all laughed at me. No one was encouraging. No one was supportive. No one said, "Oh man. Go out, have fun, and do the best you can." Everyone laughed at me. Maybe that's the world we live in. But when I walk into a dance club or something, hell, I think I'm the best dancer there, and now I've got a trophy to show for it.
I'm more known for Dancing with the Stars than for my fourteen years that I played. And crossing over to that crowd opened up other opportunities; Dark Knight Rises, The Walking Dead, a Head and Shoulders commercial with no hair on my head.
You'd think after fourteen years in the NFL that I was in shape, but I never felt out of shape until I crossed over into the endurance world. I can't run a mile. How am I supposed to run a marathon? I run fast, but that doesn't mean anything after a mile.
In the endurance world, everyone is in it together. Everyone is so encouraging. When I feel like walking or stopping, everyone is high-fiving me and going, "Come on Hines! You can do it! You're doing a great job!" I see people saying, "Hines Ward, you're an Iron Man," and that's what drives me.
I didn't really know much about the Iron Man, but here I am. I'm just learning more about myself, about recovery and refueling, and when I cross the finish line, then the sky's the limit for me. The finish line is the most rewarding feeling ever.
I don't know what success is. I only had one dream as a child, and that was to play in the Super Bowl. I've already achieved that, so everything else is a plus. Now I make the most of my opportunities and I see what happens.
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Posted by Mike Florio on October 13, 2013
Former Steelers receiver and Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward has added a very different accomplishment to his athletic career.
On Saturday, Ward completed the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.
Ward, now a fixture on NBC’s Football Night in America and Sunday Night Football, won’t be making a habit of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles consecutively. Earlier today, I texted him congratulations and asked when the next one will be.”
Never,” Ward said. “One and done.”
It’s still one heck of an accomplishment for Ward. He’s off this week as he recovers from the ordeal; he’ll be back with NBC for good next weekend.