When you hear the name Hines Ward, you immediately think of his career as a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two time Super Bowl champion and one time Super Bowl MVP played his entire career with the Steelers. Ward has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times and is the Steelers All-time leader in receiving touchdowns, receiving yards, and receptions.
Now retired from the NFL Ward has taken up a new sport. He is currently training for the IRONMAN World Championship that will take place later this year in Kona, Hawaii. He teamed up with the “Got Chocolate Milk” campaign to do a documentary on his training. You can check out the “Become One” series at the “Got Chocolate Milk” website.
I was able to talk with Hines about his training, the NFL, and his roles in the film “The Dark Knight Rises” and the hit TV show “The Walking Dead.”
Art Eddy: So tell me how the training has been so far for the IRONMAN World Championship that takes place in Kona, Hawaii on October 12th?
Hines Ward: You can follow the whole journey at got chocolate milk dot com. I am teaming up with the “Become One” campaign where we are taking three everyday people to join me on this great journey all the way to the Super Bowl of all of the triathlon events down in Kona.
It is a great opportunity for me considering I never have run over a mile, but I am starting to understand what it takes to be an endurance athlete. It is all about how you recover and take care of your body. When you are on these long runs and on these long bike rides I now have an understanding of little things like chocolate milk can help provide you with the recovery and the refueling process as you go out and try to become an endurance athlete.
AE: You have completed a few half marathons and smaller triathlons already. This past weekend you completed the St. Anthony’s triathlon. This might sound like an odd question, but have you become used to the training yet?
HW: It is getting there slowly, but surely. It is a grueling event. There is no question about it. At every event everyone has been so positive and encouraging. The other day I was running with a guy named Glen. We were talking the whole time and the next thing we knew we look up and we are towards the end near the finish line. Everybody has been so kind and helpful in that sense, but it is a grueling process.
AE: How does training for the triathlon compare to training for football?
HW: It has been totally different than my training that I was doing for football. Trying to understand my training to become an endurance athlete for me is understanding my body. It is understanding what it takes to refuel your body so you don’t cramp up or fall out.
All in all it has been going pretty good. I have been happy with the progress that I made and hopefully I can be an inspiration to people who are curious about the whole IRONMAN world. They will look at my story and follow my story and say here is a guy that has never done it before. Even though I played football it is like night and day with competing for the IRONMAN competition.
AE: In the NFL you were in the spotlight, but now you have cameras all around you for the “Become One” documentary. What was it like to have cameras with you as you trained and did it affect your training at all?
HW: I think it is great to bring attention to the triathlon world. Becoming a triathlete I know nothing about it. It is like being a rookie all over again. In the documentary I am falling off the bike. The other day in my first race in San Diego I was swimming. I was zigzagging all over the place. I couldn’t follow the buoy. I didn’t know where the buoy was.
There have been so many rookie mistakes that I have made and it is all caught on air. So I am putting myself out there for people to see that this is tough, but at the same time I am still not going to be discouraged about it. I am still going to be working at it. It is all about reps. The more events that I am in the better I become. At the end of the day the goal is to be able to cross that finish line in Kona. That’s all that really matters.
AE: Switching to the NFL, was winning the Super Bowl and the MVP award the highlight of your career?
HW: Oh no question about it. For me it is a dream come true. I dreamed about it back in the day in recess at my elementary school. Going out there and emulating Joe Montana after winning a Super Bowl. Emulating Jerry Rice and other past Super Bowl MVP’s. To get the opportunity to be on the same platform as those guys is just a dream come true and a huge honor.
It is something that will go down in history. No one will ever be able to take that away from me. I am so grateful of playing football for fourteen years and get the opportunity to not only play in one Super Bowl, play in three and win two and be Super Bowl MVP. I got everything I wanted out of the NFL. I was a Pro Bowl player. I played for a great organization. I am so honored and grateful for that.
AE: Were there any teams that would get you a bit more pumped up more than other teams in the league?
HW: Oh of course. The Baltimore Pittsburgh rivalry was great all by itself.
AE: Which defenders talked the most trash against you?
HW: You know what I love (Terrell) Suggs. He is hilarious. Of course he is a great player, but even though now that I am retired and I am on the sideline with NBC I try to talk to Suggs. He is like no I can’t talk to you. You are part of the black and gold. You are a part of them still. Even though I am done with football the rivalry itself still goes on.
AE: After football you have been in a few great movies and TV shows like “The Dark Knight” and “The Walking Dead.” Tell me about your experiences on set?
HW: It was so awesome. I grew up watching all the “Batman” shows, the movies, everything. To get the opportunity to be in that was amazing. I am very honored for that. That is just me taking advantage of all the opportunities that the NFL has presented me.
To listen to the entire interview that I had with Hines Ward and his thoughts on the recent NFL draft click here.