Steelers Great Hines Ward Promoted to New Coaching Job

Hines Ward

Kevin C. Cox/AAF/Getty Images Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward on February 16, 2019.

On Saturday November 13 Florida Atlantic University (FAU) suffered a 30-16 loss to Old Dominion, with Owls receivers dropping more than their share of passes along the way. Two days later, FAU head coach Willie Taggart announced that former Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward would be taking over as the team’s new wide receivers coach, with the news coming via Kevin Garcia of the University Press. Ward supplants Joey Thomas, a former third-round pick of the Green Bay Packers (2004) who played defensive back for the Packers, as well as the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins.

Willie Taggart: ‘I Think Hines Will Do Great’

Per Garcia, Taggart announced the change during his press conference on Monday November 15, saying, the move is “something I thought would be best for us moving forward.”

Certainly, Hines Ward has the pedigree—both as an NFL player and coach—to help make a difference at FAU. That’s why Taggart hired him in April to serve as an off-the-field assistant, and why he promoted him mid-season.

“I think Hines will do great. I think he’ll be really good, not only for our players but also in the staff room,” Taggart said. “His experience, his knowledge of the game, now that he can coach and be more involved, I think it will help us tremendously in every aspect.”

On Tuesday, Ward was seen out on the field with the Owls’ receivers, helping them prepare for the team’s next game, which is on Saturday November 20 at Western Kentucky. After that, FAU (5-5, 3-3 in Conference USA) concludes its 2021 regular-schedule with a home game against Middle Tennessee on November 27.

Ward Has Been Pursuing a Coaching Career Since 2017

Notably, it was the Steelers who gave Ward his first chance to try coaching, having him serve as an intern under then-wide receivers coach Richard Mann in the summer of 2017. He went on to work as an offensive assistant for the New York Jets for two seasons (2019-20) and earlier this year he was a candidate to become wide receivers coach of the Detroit Lions, a job that went to former Steelers teammate Antwaan Randle El.

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Hines Ward: Future Pro Football Hall of Famer?

Meanwhile, there has been considerable discussion in the past year about whether Hines Ward will ever earn entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In September he was named a candidate for the Class of 2022, having advanced to the semifinal round in each of the five previous years while never becoming a finalist.

More notably, Alan Faneca—a former Steelers teammate and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021—has lobbied on Ward’s behalf and also highlighted his candidacy by having Ward serve as presenter at his induction ceremony this past August.

As for his numbers, Ward played 14 seasons in the NFL, all of them with the Steelers (1998-2011). He caught exactly 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and had 85 touchdown receptions. He was also the MVP of Super Bowl XL and is remembered as one of the best blocking wide receivers in NFL history.

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