Bears

Ward's days with Steelers are nearing the end

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Ward's days with Steelers are nearing the end

From Comcast SportsNet
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Hines Ward has been an icon for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 14 seasons, but no more, as the NFL team announced Wednesday it was releasing the veteran wide receiver. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, who holds franchise records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, Ward, 35, will be released by the organization that drafted him back in 1998. "We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year," Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement on the team's website Wednesday. "Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998, and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve." The MVP of the 2006 Super Bowl will finish his Steelers career with 1,000 catches, 12,083 yards and 85 receiving touchdowns. He helped Pittsburgh to three AFC championships and a pair of Super Bowl wins. The former "Dancing With the Stars" champion -- who spent last weekend working the red carpet at the Oscars -- doesn't appear ready to put away his cleats just yet, however. While saying "this isn't how I wanted this chapter of my career to end," Ward vowed to return for a 15th season next fall. "I do feel that I still have more football left in me and I am looking forward to playing in the NFL, again, this upcoming season," Ward said in a statement. Ward has developed a reputation as one of the league's best blocking wide receivers, a trait that endeared him to the blue-collar fan base of one of the league's marquee franchises. Ward was pretty good at catching passes too, particularly in the postseason. He helped the Steelers to their fifth Super Bowl in 2006 catching five passes for 123 receiving yards and a touchdown in a 21-10 win over Seattle. "He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field," Rooney said, "and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years." There was just not appreciation to bring Ward, who turns 36 next week, back at 4 million next season. The Steelers are in the midst of a roster-wide salary purge and a youth movement at receiver. By the end of the 2011 season, Ward found himself on the sidelines for long stretches as youngsters Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown turned into quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's favorite targets. Both receivers topped 1,100 yards receiving and combined for 10 touchdowns, while Ward had just 46 catches for 381 yards and two scores. It was the worst reception total since his rookie year (15). Ward took the demotion in stride and relished the role of elder statesmen. Wallace, Brown and Emmanuel Sanders credited Ward for helping mature both on and off the field. All three players hoped Ward would come back for one more go, but understood they were nearing the end of an era. "We all know the direction in which we're going with the receiving corps," Sanders said last month. "But, like I said, Hines is still a great addition, just the knowledge he brings to the room. You can't pay for that. You can't coach that. He just brings that well being of how to be a pro into the room." Now the corner locker he's held for more than a decade is vacant. "Enjoyed playing with mvp86hinesward learned a lot! Was a great mentor for me! You define a "Steeler"," Brown tweeted after the announcement. He may end his career in a different city, but Ward left little doubt where his heart lies. "I gave my heart and soul for (the fans) every down and I will always bleed black-and-gold," Ward said.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How many games should Myles Garrett miss?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How many games should Myles Garrett miss?

Sam Panayotovich, Seth Gruen and Cam Ellis join Laurence Holmes on the panel.

0:00- Myles Garrett gets an indefinite suspension following Thursday night's ugly, helmet-swinging brawl between the Browns and Steelers. How many games should he miss including games in 2020?

7:50- The list of team that will attend Colin Kaepernick's workout has increased. The Bears have not confirmed whether or not they will be there. Why wouldn't they go?

12:30- Yu Darvish talks about sign stealing and also said he noticed something unusual at Miller Park. Christian Yelich fired back. The panel discusses the latest flashpoint in the Cubs-Brewers rivalry.

16:00- Harlem Globetrotters star "Big Easy" drops by the studio. He talks about what it's like to be a Globetrotter and entertaining thousands of people each night.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Matt Forte open to Bears return?: 'My knees feel pretty good on this plant based diet'

Matt Forte open to Bears return?: 'My knees feel pretty good on this plant based diet'

The Bears running game woes are well-documented at this point in the season and now it is looking like rookie running back David Montgomery could be out on Sunday as he is officially a gametime decision for the matchup against the Rams, further complicating the issues plaguing the Bears. 

Bears fans have been routinely thinking about the glory days of the franchise to distract themselves from what has been an up-and-down 2019 season. When one Bears fan took to Twitter to share a quick Matt Forte appreciation post, he got the attention of Forte himself. 

In 2014 and 2015, Forte's last two years with the Bears, he amassed 3,133 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns. After this Forte finished out his last two seasons with the New York Jets. Though Forte's last time on the field was the 2017 season, don't think that the veteran running back couldn't make a return if he absolutely set his mind to it.

A fan posited the question of:  Would Forte return to the Bears if offered a one-year deal? And Forte responded rather quickly that he would definitely be interested if such an offer was on the table.

Chicago sports fans all over the Twittersphere started to rejoice at the thought of Forte again donning a Bears jersey but when some asked Forte to not get them "worked up" about such an exciting idea, he hilariously replied that his plant-based diet has done wonders for his knees.

Obviously the lighthearted nature of Forte's response suggests that while he probably could still return to the NFL and play at a good level, he more just wanted to show his continued support for the franchise that brought him into the NFL in 2008. 

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