Steelers’ Ward will visit South Korea

Disney World isn’t the most exotic location Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward will visit this offseason. Ward is taking a two-week trip to South Korea, where he was born in 1976 before emigrating as an infant with his Korean mother, Kim Young-hee, and American G.I. father.

“My mom is why I’m here today,” Ward, who has his name in Korean tattooed on his right arm, said in Detroit before Super Bowl XL. “She worked her tail off for me. She taught me how important it is to work hard. She means everything to me.”

Divorced not long after she came to the United States, and with no way to support herself and her young son in a country whose culture and language she didn’t understand, Kim Young-hee lost custody of Hines to his father and stepmother. But when Hines was in second grade, he ran away from his father and returned to his mother.

Kim Young-hee washed dishes, cleaned hotel rooms and worked as a cashier, often in the same day, barely giving her time to sleep. Inspired by his mother, Ward thrived in the classroom and on the field at Forest Park (Ga.) High, earning a scholarship to Georgia.

Although he starred for the Bulldogs at quarterback (he passed for 413 yards as a freshman in the Peach Bowl) and receiver (his 144 career catches rank third in school history), Ward never stopped doing the dirty work. Drafted in the third round by Pittsburgh in 1998, Ward soon earned a reputation as a fierce blocker. He averaged 100 catches from 2001 to 2003, has been to four Pro Bowls and is now a Super Bowl MVP, but the 29-year-old Ward still calls himself “a blue-collar player.” Blue-collar, just like his mother.

T.O. to K.C.? — Don’t rule out Kansas City as the next team for troubled and talented Terrell Owens, despite the Chiefs’ long-standing reputation for disdaining high-maintenance, big-bucks players. General manager Carl Peterson believes new coach Herman Edwards, having dealt with big egos Warren Sapp and Ty Law, could handle Owens.

The Chiefs’ terrific offense has stars at running back, quarterback, tight end and across the line. Only receiver has been lacking.

“You have to respect his talent,” said Peterson, who watched Owens torch his team for 171 yards on 11 catches on Oct. 2. “The guy is the best. … Now that he’s had a chance to step back and reflect on what has happened … maybe he can say, ‘I [messed] up.’ .”

That’s wishful thinking, but perennial Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez said he would welcome Owens, 32, to Kansas City.

“If Terrell can get us to the Super Bowl, then I’m all for it,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know what you would do to stop us. … You have to understand what type of person Terrell is. I’m friends with him off the field. More than likely he’s not going to change too much, but I think a guy like Herm, from what I’ve heard, can handle a guy like this.”

The Eagles have given agent Drew Rosenhaus permission to seek a trade. If that doesn’t materialize, Owens will be cut before March 1, when he’s due $7.5 m illion.

Record receivers — Don’t blame Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin for another awful season in Arizona. Fitzgerald (103 catches, 1,409 yards) and Boldin (102, 1,402) joined Herman Moore and Brett Perriman of the 1995 Lions and Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey of the 2000 Broncos as the only teammates to both catch 100 balls in the same season.

“I could care less about statistics,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve had records before. It’s just on paper. What matters is hardware and I don’t have any of that, and that’s what I’m looking for.”

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