October 22, 2008
There has been a lot of discussion the past two weeks about whether Steelers receiver Hines Ward should be considered a dirty player after the 11-year veteran was fined by the league for hits he made against the Ravens and Jaguars, neither of which were penalized by an official at the time. The discourse got more intense after Ward ended Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers' season with a blindside block that broke Rivers' jaw this past Sunday in Cincinnati.
No matter what you think of Hines, you're probably safe in assuming his physical style of play has earned him more than his share of enemies throughout the league. Enough so that division rivals are putting a bounty on the guy. Indeed, Terrell Suggs, a starting linebacker for the Ravens admitted on an Atlanta radio show that teammates were gunning for Ward and fellow Steeler Rashard Mendenhall, he of the ill-advised text messaging, during the Week 4 Monday night game in Pittsburgh, which has prompted an investigation by the NFL, according to ESPN.
Suggs acknowledged recently on the syndicated sports radio talk show "2 Live Stews" that the Ravens had a bounty on Mendenhall and on Ward.
"We definitely like to send our messages to rookie running backs who think they've made it." Suggs said. "We did a good a job of sending a message."
As for Ward, Suggs said, "Hines Ward is definitely a dirty player, a cheap shot artist."
NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson said the league will look into validity of Suggs' claims.
"That 'bounty' notion is completely against the rules," Anderson told ESPN.com. "To the extent that someone is engaged in that activity, we will look into it and address it. Yes, we've seen the comments and we're trying to determine the completeness of the circumstances."
T-Sizzle, as Suggs is known, has since tried to clarify his statement, saying that the Ravens were only going to "keep a close eye on Ward." The linebacker, however, wasn't the only Raven boasting about the season-ending hit on Mendenhall. The guy who delivered the knockout blow, Ray Lewis, told Sports Illustrated that after the play he wasn't calling for medical help for Mendenhall, he was bragging that the first-round pick was "done".
After this, you might still think Hines plays dirty, but at least it's not Ravens-defense dirty.
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