The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich history of dedicated fans, exceptional coaches and talented players. The Steelers already have two Hall of Fame wide receivers in Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Both were extraordinary receivers in their day.
Swann and Stallworth were a major part of the Steelers championship teams in the 1970's. The Steelers started out as a ferocious defense and power run team, but with the development of QB Terry Bradshaw and the addition of Swann and Stallworth in 1974, the Steelers created a new vertical passing threat by the end of the decade.
But because of the mere fact NFL teams didn't pass the ball nearly as often or effectively as they do today, neither receiver's stats are comparable to today's wide receiver greats. Swann also had a short career because of repeated concussions. Therefore, Stallworth set Steelers franchise records with 537 receptions, 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns. Swann had 336 catches 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns.
It's hard to compare current Steeler wide receiver Hines Ward to the former Steelers greats simply because of the different style of play. However, Ward has broken all three of those Stallworth records with 995 receptions, 12,059 yards and 85 touchdowns in his 14 year career. He posted career bests in 2002 with 112 catches over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. In fact, this season, Ward passed the 12,000 receiving yards mark making him the 19th player to do so.
Besides a third Super Bowl ring, Ward has only one thing left to accomplish: catch five passes on Sunday and become only the 8th player, and first Steeler, with 1,000 receptions. To reach 1,000 catches would certainly cap off a Hall of Fame career, and would only further solidify his place among Steeler legends. Statistically or not, it might put him as the number one Steeler receiver of all-time.
Ward has had a bit of a rough year. Midway through the season, head coach Mike Tomlin benched him for younger and faster wide outs. To make it worse, Tomlin never really took Ward aside and explained the benching; Ward just simply lost his starting role. Despite that, Ward remained professional and a great mentor for young receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders.
The benching has stirred rumors in Pittsburgh that this could be Ward's last season, and if he wants to play another year, it would be with a different team. That would be a painful site for any Steelers fan. He would probably be more tempted to come back if he doesn't get five catches on Sunday. But for now, that is not of concern.
Sunday could be Ward's last great day in the sun. Get Ward his five catches; he deserves them, and maybe throw in a touchdown, so he can end on 86.