Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Be Careful What You Ask For, Part II

Yep, like I was saying, Hines Ward needs to report to camp -- new contract or not -- because he's got one more year left on his deal, and perhaps more importantly, the Steelers won't negotiate as long as he's a holdout.

OK, I actually said the exact opposite a few days ago, but apparently a lot can change in 48 hours. For starters, Pittsburgh immediately got the upper hand when they called off negotiations once Ward didn't report. This looked to be an atrocious PR move from the Steelers' perspective because Ward is one of the most popular players in team history, and because Pittsburgh's playoff aspirations include Ward being on the field.

Now with the front office and the head coach united in their "we don't negotiate with holdouts, and we're moving forward with or without Hines" mantra, Ward is directly behind the eight ball. After he missed the first two days of camp, I was secretly hoping that his agent, Eugene Parker, was devising a way to get Ward back into camp gracefully; you know, some story about how the two sides are really close to a deal and Ward is such a competitor that he didn't want to miss another day. And then yesterday I read this:
A day after Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert issued an ultimatum to Hines Ward, the agent for the Pro Bowl wide receiver was still trying to formulate a response.

"I can't say what we're going to do," Eugene Parker said Monday. "I just can't say. I don't know if we have any special plan of attack or any reaction to Kevin's comments. We weren't the ones who said we weren't willing to talk."
Uh, shouldn't you have a plan of attack? If one thing's for certain, it's that Parker ain't Drew Rosenhaus. And while that's usually not a bad thing, in this instance all the double-talking, client-pimping spin sure would come in handy. As it stands it's day three and counting on the holdout.

As usual, I get really worked up about the little things, and in the scheme of an NFL season, this doesn't even show up on the radar. The last two seasons, both first round picks, Polamalu in 2003 and Roethlisberger last year, held out for the first week of camp. And I think both of those guys turned out OK. Hines has been in Pittsburgh since 1998 so I'm guessing knowing the offense isn't a problem. And in fact, this whole saga allows all the other receivers to get more time in practice. Which is a good thing if you're of the opinion that Lee Mays probably isn't a number three receiver -- even on a team that throws the ball 12 times a game.