So, the next time you hear from Hines Ward, we swear it’s going to be football related. But let’s hear from the Season 12 champion of Dancing With The Stars, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.
Ward joined WCNN in Atlanta to talk about how much fun he had throughout the competition, the injury that his partner Kym Johnson suffered just days before the semifinal round, how proud he was of Johnson for her resiliency, being relieved that his mistake didn’t seriously injure her, the outstanding chemistry the two of them noticeably had, his new found fame amongst non-football fans, and why he made sure to give a shout-out to Georgia Bulldogs fans in addition to Steeler Nation throughout the competition.
On how much fun he seemed to be having throughout the competition:
“I really was. As the weeks went on, I think having my teammates vouch for me now, because I got a lot of negative reaction from my teammates — ‘man, don’t be going out there embarrassing us, don’t be wearing those tight uniforms, those tight little outfits that make you look crazy.’ But then when they came to the show and saw me in person, I really think they got a kick out of it and the confidence just grew from week to week. And they said, ‘you know what, if that’s what it takes for you to win, then go out there and be the most confident, tight-wearing football player on the ballroom floor. You’ve got our vouch.’ And I just gained confidence from week in to week out.”
On Kym Johnson’s injury, from how she was able to tough it out and compete to how he relieved he was that his mistake didn’t seriously injure her:
“I’m around that environment each and every Sunday with guys dealing with injuries. So for me, I was sick to my stomach, because as a football player, macho guy supposed to be, I just felt bad I couldn’t have done or thrown her a different way. I mean, that instant totally could have gone the other way, and if it had gone the other way I don’t know how I could have lived with myself taking something that she’s been doing her whole life, taking it away from her. So three days later, for us to go out and perform the way we did, it was just phenomenal. I was just ecstatic that she was able to dance again.”
On the special chemistry he and Johnson had and his tears of joy after their successful dance just days after Johnson’s injury:
“You know what, I really didn’t care about the score at that time. I was just happy to see her dancing. I was just trying to dance the best that I know how because that week was a short week and I didn’t practice Friday at all, Saturday she had a neck brace on and she was still wanting to go out there and dance which is so crazy. Then to come out and perform that dance routine…because that morning when we were doing dress rehearsal, she wasn’t even cleared by the doctors until Monday morning. So I didn’t even know who I would be dancing with. So it was a stressful weekend for me because I didn’t get any sleep Sunday night. So for us to come out and dance the way we did, I didn’t even care about the dance competition, I was just glad for me and her to be dancing again together and that’s what it takes with the Argentinian Tango — it’s about you and your partner; it’s about you guys bringing the audience to you. And I think by us just dancing the way we did, I think that’s what the judges and everybody was impressed about.”
On his new fame and how strange he thinks it will be to be known by so many just for his dancing rather than his football accomplishments:
“Exactly, it’s the weirdest thing and that’s why the show is great. It’s the best reality show out there because it puts celebrities….you know, it takes a lot for celebrities to do this show, you know, to go out there and put yourself out there like that with a chance of embarrassing yourself.”
On his shoutout to Georgia Bulldogs fans for their support after winning the competition:
“Ah, you know what? I know I play in Pittsburgh, but Georgia will always be my home, that’s where it all started. I know I’ve got a big fan base here in Atlanta, so Atlanta will always remain home for me. So of course I’m playing football in Pittsburgh and the city of Pittsburgh’s been great, it’s kind of my second home away from home. But for me, it all started at the University of Georgia and to have my fanbase still supporting me here after 14 years has passed since I played at Georgia is just phenomenal.”
If he’s heard much about the new ‘Steelers Rule’ regarding fines and potentially even lost draft picks for teams with players that repeatedly commit late and rough hits:
“That’s just something that the owners are going to have to deal with. It’s still football. I mean, I understand they’re trying to bring safety to the game, but you can’t bring safety to a game that’s a violent sport already. When you have two grown men traveling at 20 miles per hour on a head-on collision, guess what, something in your body is going to hurt. So regardless of what you do, it’s still a physical ball game. But what are you going to do when a runner is continuing to try to run over a guy? Are you going to just wait until one guy can’t tackle him before you go in there and assist somebody? So for me, I understand where they’re coming from, but at the same time you can’t protect football. It’s a violent sport. If you want to protect it, we need to play flag football.”