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Steelers Great Hines Ward Hopes to Use XFL as Springboard for Coaching Career



Former Steelers WR Hines Ward

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward can hardly contain the excitement that comes with his first head coaching gig. In charge of the San Antonio Brahmas — one of eight clubs in the second reboot of the XFL — the Steelers’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown grabs is out to prove himself.

“I’m going to make the most of it,” Ward recently said on The Jim Rome Podcast. “I can’t sleep at night because I’m trying to perfect it. I’m like, ‘What can I do better? What can I give these guys? How can I adjust the schedule? What can I say? What message?’ I literally get, like, two hours of sleep every day because I’m a perfectionist. I want this to really go well. I want to be able to spread the knowledge to our players and, to be honest, I have a goal. I want 20% of my roster to be on NFL teams … If I can get 10 players on an NFL roster, then I know I can coach and be a head coach at any level.”

Hines Ward began his coaching career as an intern with the Steelers in 2017. In the time since then, he’s served as an offensive assistant for the New York Jets and a wide receivers coach for Florida Atlantic. He’s all about the spring league’s vision — providing lesser-known talents and NFL retreads the chance to climb the ladder — and feels that his own experiences can be useful in such a situation.

“To be able to share everything that I’ve learned from football, to give it to our players that are trying to fulfill the dream of playing the game that they love,” the Super Bowl XL MVP said. “For me, I wasn’t a high draft pick. I had to do it the dirty way. I had to grind my way through special teams just to stay on the team and I had to believe in myself. Everybody has a path and a journey, and that’s what I see. I see a lot of myself in all the guys that I have on my team.”

Ward’s relishing the opportunity to impart the same messages he preached as a veteran player. Not even a week into training camp, they’re resonating with his crew, which is full of players who have either struggled with soaking in playbooks at the professional level or haven’t yet learned what it takes to stick. He puts an emphasis on attitude, communication, and effort — none of which require talent, he pointed out.

“You’re here for a reason, let’s embrace it,” Ward said. “My job is to develop guys, to develop champions making championship decisions both on and off the field … They’re starting to buy in. We’re in Day 4 of training camp and seeing the guys finishing every play, hustling to the ball. It’s a big turnaround from Day 1.”

The Brahmas begin their regular season against the St. Louis Battlehawks on Sunday, Feb. 19. Other notable former Steelers in the league are Rod Woodson, the head coach of the Vegas Vipers, and Martavis Bryant, who also plays for Sin City’s squad.

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