Tag:Hines Ward
Posted on: November 25, 2008 12:56 pm

A Steelers "Helping Hand" Get Recognition - Again

Spending time in the military and being stationed overseas can be beneficial.  Not only do you get the opportunity to see the sight, experience a place you may never, otherwise have an opportunity to experience, meet new people, and for better or worse, get to know the customs and the culture. 

I had been lucky to travel many places at the behest of Uncle Sam. My first trip overseas, sent me for a year to an Air Force base in South Korea from 1982 through 83.  During this time, along with the shopping, the partying, the sight-seeing and just hanging out (not to mention working), I also volunteered my time to help at a nearby orphanage.  This orphanage didn’t accept just any child, it was an orphanage for Amer-asian children.  Children often born from American fathers and unwed Korean mothers.  At the time, life wasn’t easy for multi-racial Korean children and a lot of the children in this orphanage, were given up by their mothers and almost hidden from society.  The prejudice against these children was extremely strong at the time.

It had been a little more then 20 years later, when I kept up with the news on Hines Ward’s travels to Korea and had seen, not much had changed in those 20 years.  After winning the Superbowl, and using the prestige of being the first Korean-American to win the Superbowl to try to bring about a change in the culture status of multiracial children in Korea.  In 2006, Ward would create the “Helping Hands Foundation” to help try to eliminate the discrimination that has for so long been so strong in that country. 

In 2007, the Steelers would vote him to be their Walter Payton Man of the Year, for not only his achievements on the field in football, but also his contribution to the community. Ward would end up being one of the final three men in the standings for the NFLs Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, along with Jason Whitten of the Dallas Cowboys and Jason Taylor, then with the Miami Dolphins.  Taylor would be recipient of the award in February 2008.

Once again, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Hines Ward has been selected as the Steelers 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.  Ward leads the team with 54 receptions, 718 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.  His work with the “Helping Hands Foundation” continues, not only with his trips to South Korea to continue to keep the dialogue open, but also with hosting weekend visits from those children he’s trying to help. 

Ward will join 31 other team Walter Payton Man of the Year recipients, where, during the Superbowl, one will be recognized as the NFLs Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Congratulations to Ward for the team recognition, and to all players who’ve received their respective teams recognition for their contributions both on and off th

Posted on: September 7, 2008 9:36 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2008 9:46 pm

It's Steelers Football Babeee - Week One

A bright day, the sun shining down and in the stands the Terrible Towels were waving high and fast in the city of steel.  The Steelers were facing the Houston Texans for the third time in the history of the young Texas franchise.  The electricity of the day, the season opener at home for the Steelers could be felt by this Steeler’s fan through the very screen of the television as I watched the opening of the game.   By the end of the game, the lyrics from Sweet’s song, "Little Willy" kept playing over and over in my head:

North side, east side
Little Willy, Willy wears the crown, he's the king around town
Dancing, glancing
Willy drives them silly with his star shoe shimmy shuffle down
Way past one, and feeling alright
'Cause with little Willy round they can last all night
Hey down, stay down, stay down down

We had questions going into this game.  Would the Steelers extend their winning streak to six straight games at home for the season opener?  How well will the Steelers o-line line hold up to the likes of Mario Williams?  What factor would Willie Parker’s injury from last year play?  Would there be improvement in the special teams play?  In the end, for this day, the questions were answered.

For those who wondered how well the oline would do without Alan Faneca, that was answered by 138 rushing yards allowed by the Texan’s defense and three touchdown runs by Willie Parker.   There would be no doubt that Chris Kemoetu was more then an adequate replacement for Faneca.  The o-line, for the most part, continued to hit hard, giving protection to Ben Roethlisberger and opening up the rushing lanes for Willie to run.  If one were to ask if there was a weak link on the Steelers oline, it would have to be with Willie Colon.  Hopefully Colon will continue to improve and not miss crucial blocks to help protect Roethlisberger.

Ben Roethlisberger seems to have finally come to full maturity, showing quick release of the ball at times to hit his TE Heath Miller and there was no controversy with taller wide receivers when Ben connected with Hines Ward six times, twice resulting in a touchdown.  If there were any questions about the chemistry between the young quarterback and the veteran wide receiver, it was answered in this game.  At the end, Roethlisberger would have an almost perfect night completing 13 of 14 passes, and has shown that this offense could possibly be a complete, pick your poison offense.

The Steeler defense showed why they were the number one defense from last season and promises to be a hard hitting, topped rank defense again this year.  Troy Polamalu proved that he was still an integral part of this defense, not only with his hard hitting stops in his three unassisted tackles, but showed that he can read the play perfectly when Matt Schaub hit him in the numbers, causing an interception.  One exciting player, LB  Lamar Woodley, made Steelers fans proud with his sack on Schaub, as well as a one handed interception.   However, if you were to ask who was the defensive player for this game, no one could deny it would be pro-bowl linebacker James Harrison with six unassisted tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble.  No doubt that the showing of this defense was a great way for Dick LeBeau to start his 50th year in the NFL. 

Also exciting was to watch the speed and the hard hitting defense on the Steelers special teams.  Also considered one of the weaker links in the Steeler’s team, the defensive play of the special teams, yesterday, though they allowed some yardage on punt and kick off returns, the stifled any explosive plays that is possible with the Texans wide receivers.  Jeff Reed was his typical consistent self kicking one field goal and making 5 of 5 of the extra points. 

It wasn’t all Pittsburgh positives though.  Matt Schaub passed for 202 yards, his key receiver, Andre Johnson catching 10 passes for 110 yards, making this duo a viable passing threat in the AFC.  Mario Williams proved why the Texans made him their first one draft choice in 2006.  Williams and the front four played fast and hard against the Pittsburgh’s oline and it payed off twice with two sacks on Roethlisberger, one leading to a forced fumble.  In the end though, Texans just entered hostile terrority where many teams met the same fate on opening day at Heinz Field.

Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau, Bruce Arians and the whole Steelers team played the style of football that we've become use to with this hard hitting team and continues to keep them a dominant force in the AFC and the NFL today.  Welcome to Steelers football. 
Posted on: May 14, 2008 4:14 am

Patience, Perseverance and Dreams Come True

My husband has this dream of winning the Powerball, buying a yacht and living on the Med.  That way it would be easy to travel the world, pickup and move, and give him access to authentic Turkish foods on a daily basis.  I’m all for this dream, after all, if we were able to afford to own a yacht and live like this, then think of how much shopping I would be able to do.  We understand that the potential for this dream to go unfulfilled is great, especially since we keep forgetting to pickup Powerball tickets.

His other dream, the one where he has a harem will probably go unfulfilled also.  One, because he knows his limitations and two, because I’m less supportive of this one, unless of course I get to have my bevy of cabana boys. 

I have a dream myself, a little less ambitious then his, but probably will be as unrealized, at least in full, as his also.  Mine involves a business.  I see myself having this quaint little plaza where there are a few shops (all of which we own and operate). 

In the center is a little café that serves freshly baked muffins, scones and danishes, as well as deli items.  But the real draw would be the exotic and gourmet coffees and teas.  The layout wouldn’t be a normal café seating but wicker chairs and couches with coffee and end tables for seating.  It would open out onto a shaded courtyard surrounded by wisteria and gardenia plants and would have more seating, this time with wrought iron furniture.

Off to one side of the café would be an art gallery where local artists could show and sell their paintings and sculptures.  Off to the other, another store which would specialize in the goods of local crafters.  Off to the back of the courtyard, a flower shop and greenhouse, which would sell, not only unique floral arrangements but also have exotic orchids and tropical flowers, as well as the standards.

There are reasons that this dream will remain unfulfilled, at least for now.  Capital, the economy, Starbucks will never go under so that will cut into my customer base and I’m not in the right locale.  For this to work and be profitable it needs to be in a town that is high in tourism.  This city just isn’t known for it’s tourism.  Oh, yeah, and the homegrown flowers, well, my thumb isn’t exactly green right now.  At least I can try to build on the little cottage business I do have now and perhaps one day, I can see at least a portion of that dream fulfilled.  So I start putting in more energy to revitalize what I do have now. (Does this answer the question where I’ve been the last week?).

A few weeks ago, we got to see hundreds of young men get the opportunity to at least have a chance to experience their dreams of playing in the NFL.  For the top draft picks, we know that their dreams will be realized sooner then later.  For the other ones who heard their name called late in the draft, patience and perseverance could get them a starting job one day.  For those who didn’t hear their name called at Radio City Music Hall, well, that dreams not dead for them yet, since most were picked up via undrafted free agency.

This past week, teams have begun having their mini-camps, getting the rookies acclimated to life as a professional football player.  And as we watch and chatter about how effective Darren McFadden will be for the Raiders, how Matt Ryan will do under center for the Atlanta Falcons, or how deadly the Steelers running game has become with the addition of Rashard Mendenhall, we don’t tend to notice those later round picks or even the ones who came in undrafted.  But they have their opportunities too.

Could Dominick Dixon come out to be like Tom Brady, a late round pick QB who matured into an excellent quarterback.  We’ve seen Hines Ward and Joey Porter, both second day picks, become leaders of their respective squads.  Remember how Ward was too small to play in the NFL? 

Then you have the hidden gems.  Which ones will take our breath away?  They’re there.  I remember watching the last game of the 05-06 season, Steelers vs the Buffalo Bills.  A no name kid on the backup squad, broke free and ran fast towards the endzone.  We asked “Willie who?”.  The undrafted free agent from North Carolina, who rode the bench through college would end up leading the league in rushing until his injury, during the 07-08 NFL season. 

Now mini-camps will turn to training camps to turn to pre-season to turn to regular season football.  Many will see their dreams come true, many will only have a portion of that dream realized.  Unfortunately, there are still others who have had those dreams unrealized.  For them, hopefully other dreams will take their place and be realized.

For me, I’ll continue to work on that small portion of my dream with patience and perseverance, and maybe even help my husband at least have a little portion of his dream fulfilled (time to google belly dancing costumes).   

Posted on: January 31, 2008 1:02 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2008 1:03 pm

Remembering Sweetness

It will be the biggest day of the NFL year, something that football fans look towards every year.  The final destination of the last two teams surviving.  The battle of the Titans of each conference in football.  Already the media has converged on Arizona as the teams arrived to practice.  A somewhat circus atmosphere has developed with the festivities, with media day, fan day, wheaties day, etc...

Already we're seeing advertisers jockeying for the best spots during the Superbowl.  KFC has already promised a check to a players or performers charity, should they do the chicken dance during the game.    Through the week, we've seen the interviews, the analysis and the side stories that accompany the teams and players involved in the game.  We, as fans, have sat an predicted, who was going to win.  What player would be named MVP.  What Tom Petty was going to sing during the half-time show.  Amidst all the hype and storylines that have been fed to fans by the NFL, teams and media, another process is taking place quietly behind the scenes. 

On February 3d, 2008, not only will we have the final winner of Superbowl XLII, but we will also find out the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.  Once known as the NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognized and honored, not only a players performance on the field, but also what they gave back to their communities.  Walter Payton, himself, received the NFL Man of Year Award in 1977.  It was after his death in 1999, that the NFL chose to honor the Bears running back and changed the name of the award to the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Four players have received nominations for this award this year.  Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jason Taylor from the Miami Dolphins, Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys and Brian Waters from the Kansas City Chiefs.  Each of these individuals not only have a stellar career, but have given their energy and their backing to projects that reach out to the community or causes they feel strongly about, much like Payton did during and after his career in the NFL. 

As I await the announcement of this recipient of this award, as eagerly as I await the outcome of the game on Sunday, how can I not reflect on the career and life of "Sweetness".  Though I was never much of a Bears fan, I do remember in those games that I've watched, when Payton started his dance, I found myself whispering "run, Sweetness, run".  Many a runningback who has entered the league within the past few years, have sited that Payton was his inspiration.  Indeed, no one could argue how great a running back Walter Payton was. Yet, Sweetness was so much more.  The work he did with underpriviledge and abused children in the state of Illinois.  How he made his battle with a rare liver cancer public to show the dire need for organ donors.  How we saw the pride and love of father and son for each other when he was introduced to the Hall of Fame.  The love of a wife, as she continues to support the causes of her late husband through the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation. 

In a profession where greatness comes and goes, where players and plays become memories and stories of legends, one player is forever immortalized, not just on game field, but to all of us who remember and who will come after and learn of him.  It is fitting that the NFL continue to honor Sweetness's memory and to pay tribute to those who continue on as an inspiration to future players and fans in their works on and off the field.


Walter Payton Man of the Year Nominatees:  http://www.jointheteam.com/press/pr

Walter and Connie Payton Foundation:  http://www.payton34.com/

Walter Payton Liver Center:  http://www.walterpaytonlivercenter.

Past Walter Payton Man of the Year/NFL Man of the Year Recipients:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter

Join the Team: Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award:  http://www.jointheteam.com/programs



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com