Former Steeler Hines Ward became synonymous with the Steelers organization over the course of his tenure. And, as difficult as it was to think of him absent from the football field when the team first released him, it is still a foreign concept as the team announced their offensive and defensive captains for the season.
Hines Ward has been a captain of the offense for the past seven seasons. His leadership, hard work, and team spirit earned him that right. Captains have a way of not only energizing and inspiring their teammates but also the home crowd. There is countless footage out there of Ward leaping into the stands of Heinz Field after a touchdown catch, pulling out a Terrible Towel and waving it on the sidelines, or running around with a skip in his step getting the crowd and his team pumped up. And that smile…..
For the first time in seven seasons Ward will be absent from that list of captains. Ben Roethlisberger was voted sole offensive captain by his teammates today. Roethlisberger has been a co-captain with Ward four previous seasons. This is his first time solo. For the first time in eight seasons, James Farrior is absent from the captain’s helm. Known more as a locker room captain, Farrior was seen as a very good leader, and it was one of the things many people questioned the Steelers lacked on defense after his release in the offseason. Brett Keisel was voted by his teammates as the defensive captain and has some pretty big shoes to fill. What’s surprising about Keisel’s selection is the non-selection of Troy Polamalu.
As I mentioned, questions swirled around the organization about a lack of leadership on defense now that Farrior was released (a bunch of hype if you ask me, but there it was). In a surprise move, Troy Polamalu showed up to the first series of mini-camps and OTA’s – activities he usually refrains from attending. Many thought (including myself) that this was a clear sign that Polamalu was stepping up and acting as a captain would – being there for the younger players. It’s not like Polamalu needed the workouts for his own benefit. So, for him to attend workouts ‘early’ and not even get a co-captain title seems strange to me. Perhaps he was voted and turned it down. It’s unclear as most locker room things such as this are rather secretive. It’s just a curious matter.
Before I close this up, I have one thing to say to Mike Wallace – perform. I picked you today in my fantasy football draft, and you better perform and produce. I’ve got Reggie Wayne and Dexter McCluster as my other two options. Serve it up Wallace – not only could the Steeler franchise benefit from your stats, so could I.