Prolific former-Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is to be honored on February 6 by receiving the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher will present the 36 year-old with the award at the prestigious dinner held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Despite speculation by fans that Ward might return to the Steelers in 2013 following what many considered to be a lack of effective offense during the 2012 season, Ward made no mention of a return to the NFL as a player when speaking publicly about the award.
The annual Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year Dinner has turned into a major social event. First held in November 1936 and founded by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports editor Al Abrams, the businessman's sports club evolved into a charitable event and a gathering of who's-who in Pittsburgh. Art Rooney, Jock Sutherland and John Harris spoke at the original banquet. It was Abrams' friend and fellow business owner, George "Red" Lai, who suggested the name due to the type of membership the group wanted to attract; from sportsmen to businessmen.
Ward played 14 seasons with the Steelers before, as he says, the organization told him it was over and he would not be returning in 2012. "I'm a little disappointed how it ended because it wasn't my idea how to end things," Ward told Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette. "I look at Ray Lewis having the opportunity to walk off the field in Baltimore. I never had that opportunity." Ward finished his career with 12,083 receiving yards, 1,000 catches and 85 receiving touchdowns - setting the all-team record in those three categories.
"Being selected for the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award is a big honor for me," said Ward. "It's very humbling for me, and I am grateful to the folks at Dapper Dan."
The natural love for Ward by Steelers fans isn't displaced love. Ward still loves the fans and the city of Pittsburgh. Ward called the city his "home away from home", and said that he has enjoyed being able to do a lot of things, including charitable acts, in and around Pittsburgh. "I've given back to the city that gave me so much," said Ward.
Unfortunately for those doting fans, Ward isn't planning to come out of retirement and suit back up in the NFL - even if it's in Pittsburgh. Ward continues to be involved with football broadcasts and according to Bouchette is training at home in Atlanta, Georgia, for the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.
Ward is a natural choice for a future Hall-of-Fame spot in Canton, but he's moved on from the legacy that is football. He has a full life ahead of him to continue to add to a resume of achievements and time to spend with his family.
For more information about the event, please visit the Dapper Dan Charities page on the Post-Gazette website.
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