After being released by the Steelers, Ward considered signing with another team, but decided instead that he’d rather retire.
“You guys meant the world to me,” Ward told Steelers fans. “This city and this organization means the world to me. So today I came back to Pittsburgh to grant Steeler Nation this one last request. Today I am officially retiring as a Pittsburgh Steeler. And as much as I will miss football, my teammates, coaches and everything about the game, I don’t want to play in any other uniform. The black and gold runs deep with me, and I will remain a Steeler for life.”
Cleveland Browns fans certainly aren’t going to miss seeing Ward consistently torch the Browns’ defense and be a general nuisance on the field. However, underneath that is a required level of respect for a great player.
It is unfortunate that Ward will no longer play the game – and one can speculate on all of his reasons for retiring – but it seems genuine that he wanted to retire as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s a telling indication of how the culture of that organization is embedded into every player that ends up there.
It’s something the Browns continue to work towards and, hopefully, will one day achieve.