Hines Ward's Release Is the Ultimate Slap to Steelers Fans

hines wardThe sun may have come up in the city of Pittsburgh this morning, but I think it's safe to say that most people who hail from the Steel City feel like they are still under a huge black cloud after the shocking release of Hines Ward by the Steelers yesterday. And it's highly likely that they all have one key question on their minds this morning: "How in the hell could the Steelers do something like this to Hines Ward -- who is no doubt one of the greatest players they've ever had?"

The release of a dedicated player who has given everything he had to the game for 14 seasons would shock and devastate the fan base of any team -- but Steelers fans are an entirely different breed than most. They love their team and the city it represents with a kind of passion and loyalty that rarely exists in the world anymore. And that's why letting Hines Ward go was the ultimate slap in the face to die-hard Steelers fans whose blood truly does run black and gold.

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I was born in the 'Burgh and lived there 'til I was about 5 years old. And while I haven't actually resided there in almost 30 years, I still go back quite a bit to visit, because the majority of my family members still live there. But even though I may not have a Pittsburgh zip code anymore, it doesn't mean that I still don't consider the city to be my home. And I think that most people who have lived there for any period of time will agree with me when I say that once you've lived in Pittsburgh, you're kind of always a Pittsburgher.

So -- what exactly is so special about people from Pittsburgh? In a nutshell -- everything. People from Pittsburgh are extremely principled. They are good, salt-of-the-earth people who would give you their last dime or the shirt off their back without one ounce of hesitation. They work hard. They play hard. They love their families and friends unconditionally. And they faithfully root for the Steelers every Sunday during football season because the team is basically the perfect representation of all that they stand for, and everything they cherish in life.

And that is why trying to absorb and come to terms with the fact that Hines Ward was (in the words of my own dad) "thrown out like yesterday's garbage," all because the people in charge of the team felt that saving money was worth breaking the hearts of the entire Steeler Nation, is going to be incredibly hard for fans and Pittsburghers in general to accept. They're extremely pissed -- and they should be.

But one thing's for sure -- Hines Ward may not be part of the Steelers team anymore, but his loyal fans aren't going to stop rooting for him anytime soon. Because it would take a whole hell of a lot more than getting kicked off a football team for Pittsburghers to stop believing in one of their own.

Were you shocked at the news that Hines Ward was being released?

 

Image via Karl Walter/Getty

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