It is simple really, but some things are easier said than done. When Hines Ward played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they were an incredibly well-run NFL franchise. In some aspects, they still are. However, it is been 15 years since the Steelers won their most recent Super Bowl. It came at the end of the 2008 season. They went to another in 2010 before he retired, but have not been back since…
I had the opportunity to speak with my fellow University of Georgia alum ahead of the Dawgs’ Week 10 home game. vs. the Missouri Tigers. It may have been mostly a college football-centric conversation with the Steelers’ all-timer, but Ward did provide me with a little bit of clarity I needed on what is honestly holding this proud AFC North franchise back. It has everything to do with their focus.
Ward, who spoke to FanSided on behalf of Fairfield by Mariott to promote The Home Field Advantage tailgate going on in Athens last Saturday, opined about this younger generation of Steelers’ mindsets.
I just think it’s a mindset, right? It is all about the team. Now with this younger generation, everybody wants to be famous on TikTok and social media, and you kind of lose sight of the team aspect of it. Every time you get a chance to walk in that building in Pittsburgh, and you see the six Lombardi Trophies, it’s a mindset that comes with that. It’s not just about you, it’s ‘What can I do to help us win another Lombardi Trophy to add another one in our collection?'”
Ward knows it is a blessing to play in a place like Pittsburgh, let alone be drafted by the Steelers. He wishes some of the younger players on the Steelers would put the team ahead of their own interests.
“I think once those younger guys start to realize the rich tradition in Pittsburgh that we have and buy into kind of the mindset that we had in Pittsburgh: It’s about team before I. Those guys, you’ll see more championships because we’re way too talented to not be winning Super Bowls. That’s the only difference. I just think it’s a mindset.”
The good news is Ward believes that if everybody starts pulling in the same direction, the Steelers can finally get back to accomplishing all of their biggest goals, which is winning many Super Bowls.
“Those guys just have to come collectively as a group to understand that it’s not about me, it’s about us. And then if we all win, then everybody gets a chance to get their shine on TikTok and social media.”
One player that Ward and I discussed in the lead-up to this question was his former teammate Troy Polamalu. The hall-of-fame safety was not only one of the most instinctive players to ever play in the NFL, but also one of the most selfless. I spoke with Polamalu during the 2020 COVID season about what tied Mike Tomlin to Bill Cowher to Chuck Noll. He said it was how they all handled adversity.
Ward implied the Steelers need a selfless superstar like Polamalu on this team to get over the top.
“I’m more of an advocate of pushing more team aspect than individual stuff. I’ve been very blessed to play with some outstanding teammates that were really selfless. Take Troy Polamalu. He’s one of the guys that really didn’t want all the credit, kind of hid behind the curtains and let other guys get their shine. But we all know what he brought to the table. That’s the mindset you gotta have. That’s a championship mindset.”
Pittsburgh may have that guy in edge rusher T.J. Watt, but Tomlin’s team needs infinitely more focus…