Many will remember Hines Ward as a hard-working professional who took just as much pride in the unheralded, blue-collar aspects of the game as he did in the "SportsCenter" highlights.
Others will remember him as a dirty, dirty, face-punching scoundrel who tried to end peoples' careers. Bengals safety Chris Crocker falls into the latter group. Via Bengals.com:
Safety Chris Crocker, always an outspoken critic of Ward's approach, reiterated Tuesday he thinks Ward played a dirty game and that "he tried to end people's careers and that's not the way the game is supposed to be played."
Crocker also did say that Ward was a big-time player and that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Crocker also accused Ward of punching him in the face once.
"Stuff like that, it's just not right," Crocker said. "And I'm not the only guy that thinks it."
No, I'm sure you aren't, but the winners get to write the history books. And Ward, the better player on the historically better team, will be remembered as a tough guy, and Chris Crocker will just be the guy who complained about getting punched in the face once. Right or wrong, that's how it goes.
Ward's a polarizing guy. I don't know of a single Steelers fan who doesn't adore him, and I don't know of a fan of any other AFC North team who doesn't loathe him. Even uninterested parties seem to have a strong opinion on Ward. Fortunately, it is possible to acknowledge that he crossed the line sometimes and still appreciate him as a player.
Life will be safer now for Chris Crocker and the rest of the receivers in the AFC North.
Gracias, Pro Football Talk.