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He wasn’t willing to do it, however, outside Pittsburgh.

“I want to go down as one of the greats to wear the black-and-gold and that’s how it should end,” Ward said.

Ward laughed when asked if he could go into coaching one day, taking a jab at coach Mike Tomlin, who isn’t sure how Ward’s passion would play in the locker room. One of the most respected players in the league because of his contributions on and off the field, Ward leaves a void that will be difficult to fill.

“On behalf of the NFL players, I want congratulate Hines on an extraordinary career,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said. “I know he will continue to be a leader and example to our men.”

Ward’s already started by urging Wallace to do what he can to remain with the Steelers.

“I told Mike you may get a chance to go other places but there’s not another place like Pittsburgh,” Ward said.

Certainly not for Ward. His No. 86 jersey has long been one of the team’s top sellers, and his blue-collar attitude rang true to a fan base where hard work is a way of life. Ward understands the unique relationship the Steelers have with the city and to tarnish it by making a last-gasp attempt to pad his career stats didn’t interest him.

“I want my legacy here to say, you know what he was one hell of a football player who gave it his all,” Ward said. “I’m truly blessed. I played in three Super Bowls, won two Super Bowls, was Super Bowl MVP … what more could a player want out of his entire football career?”