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Hines Ward Brings Steelers Identity to XFL’s Brahmas



Former Steelers WR Hines Ward

San Antonio Brahmas head coach Hines Ward is out to replicate the identity of the Pittsburgh Steelers teams he used to play for. The approach that Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin took in leading their squads is engrained in him — all the way down to the phrases they would preach. Combine that all with the fact that he’s brought linebackers coach Joey Porter along for the ride and south-central Texas might see the XFL version of the Steelers Way.

“That standard is the standard,” Ward said on a Tuesday Zoom conference. “That’s who I am. I mean, it’s hard not to play for a great organization for 14 years and understand what the standard is. That’s kind of been our mantra down here. My standards and my expectations of how we practice each and every day — of going out there with a purpose, a plan to get better, working on our craft. Just implementing that into our team and our culture has worked wonders. It’s the only thing that I really know. It resonates within me.”

Along with the Tomlinisms, the former tough-nosed pass-catcher is trying to mold his team the best he can. If there are any Jerome Bettis or Casey Hampton types, though, it’s not evident.

“I would love to have all of that, but those guys are in the NFL,” Ward said with a laugh. “If they’re down here, there are some big problems going on. We have to cater our team to our personnel. I think great coaches, they do that.”

“Such is Life”

It’s also been a process of familiarizing himself with his roster. Ward stressed that he and his staff didn’t have the luxury of getting to fully know players before drafting them. Scouting criteria were based mostly on film and prior knowledge of a player’s ability. He’s seen what exactly he’s working with while building relationships in training camp.

“Having to cram all that, that’s been some of the adversities, I think, for all coaches,” Hines Ward said. “Getting to know their team, getting to know their strengths, getting to know their weaknesses, then establishing what they do well and trying to put a playbook around our personnel. That’s what’s been so fun and creative. It’s almost like we’re building our playbook as we go.”

And teaching his guys what it means to carry themselves and play a certain way. Porter can attest to that.

“All the players gravitate to Joey,” Ward said. “Having somebody that’s been there, done that, with me and joining me in this process has been awesome … Together, we talk about our glory days, but at the same time, the culture that we had in Pittsburgh, we lived it. So, he understands it better than anyone on my staff. I wanted him to really share in the moment of trying to create that culture and that environment (of) what we had in Pittsburgh.”

Ward will be under the headset when the Brahmas open their regular season at home against the St. Louis Battlehawks on Sunday. The game kicks off at 3 p.m. on ABC.

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