Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward spent the past two seasons as an offensive assistant for the New York Jets. According to a report by The Owl’s Nest (a report that has since been confirmed by Adam Rittenberg of ESPN), Ward will get a chance to continue his coaching career as an “off-field assistant” for the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls.
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As noted by The Owl’s Nest, Ward played his college football at the University of Georgia between 1994-98, and FAU’s director of player personnel is David Kelly, who was the running backs coaching for the Bulldogs in 1994 and ’95. Ward will reportedly be working alongside recently promoted FAU receivers coach Joey Thomas, who was a third-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2004 and spent three seasons in the NFL, playing defensive back for the Packers, New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins.
Hines Ward’s Foray into Coaching
In recent years, Ward has been attempting to jump start a coaching career. In fact, he served as a coaching intern for the Steelers in the summer of 2017, working under then-wide receivers coach Richard Mann.
“I am teaching guys things I have done my whole life. I love football. I have always loved football. Why not give these guys all of the knowledge of the game that I have,” he told Steelers.com at the time.
Earlier this offseason, Ward was reportedly a candidate for the position of wide receivers coach for the Detroit Lions, but former Steelers teammate Antwaan Randle El got the job.
For Ward, the Gold Jacket Has Remained Elusive
In the meantime, Ward is still hoping to earn admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s been a semifinalist five times but has never made it to the final round of voting, despite a 14-year career that saw him catch exactly 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdown receptions. He was also the MVP of Super Bowl XL, a 21-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. But it’s possible that his candidacy will get a closer look in the next few years, as a comparison with recently retired New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman has served to highlight all he accomplished as a Steelers receiver.
On the other hand, five former members of the Steelers organization are set to be formally enshrined in August, and the Hall of Fame voters might be reticent to vote in any more Steelers in the next few years, which could further imperil Ward’s candidacy.
The Class of 2021 includes former Steelers offensive lineman Alan Faneca and the late Bill Nunn, with the former a six-time finalist before he finally gained admission. The Class of 2020—which includes former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, as well as former Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell—will also be part of this summer’s festivities, as last year’s enshrinement ceremony was postponedas a result of the pandemic.
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