Hines Ward has always cared deeply about his legacy, his place in history. Don't ever let anyone -- especially Ward -- tell you differently. There's a scene that happened not long after Ward won his Super Bowl MVP that illustrates this.
It was during one of the seasons when some around the NFL were calling Ward dirty following a handful of hard blocks. Ward has had to fight off this charge repeatedly and this year was no different. He said something that went like this: All the great wide receivers in history block hard. All of them. Including some great wide receivers who played for the Steelers.
He was right, of course. Ward's hard blocks approached the line, maybe dipped his tippy-toes a millimeter past it, but Ward was never dirty. He was rugged and skilled and possessed one of the all-time great hearts in football history.
Now the Steelers have announced that Ward is no longer a part of their immediate future. It's possible once the Steelers solve their immense salary cap hell the team brings him back, but that doesn't seem realistic at this moment.