Leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, current and former Steelers’ players will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. In this installment, former wide receiver Hines Ward shares his memories.
Hines Ward - Third Round - 1998 - Georgia
"I was at home. It was just my mother and I. It was a long day. Your agent tells you where you are going to get picked, what teams are interested in you. But it seems like it never works out that way unless you are a top five or 10 pick. If you are in the latter part of the rounds, you don't know.
"My agent thought maybe late first, early second round. Those were the teams that flew me to their facilities and I had met all the coaches.
"It was a long day, but it's fun to have your dream of going to the pros and hearing your name called on the TV.
"It was Tampa Bay and Indianapolis who I thought would pick me. I visited Tampa three times and the Colts twice. Those were the teams I thought were interested in me. They had the first two picks in the second round. Tampa picked Jacquez Green and the Colts picked Jerome Pathon. After the two teams who I thought were going to pick me picked other receivers, I didn't know what was going on. I was thinking, maybe somebody else will take me.
"My agent called and told me they were passing on me because I don't have an ACL. I was disappointed, but I just had to wait and see what was going to happen.
"The other teams had both called. The guy from Tampa told me it was down to the two of us, same with the Colts. Then I saw their names go across the screen and didn't hear anything from the teams, no call, no sorry, it was like the heck with Hines. Then I got a call from Pittsburgh, it was like here we go again. I didn't know what to expect because I hadn't talked to them. Next thing I know, they said we selected you.
“Fortunately enough I was drafted by Pittsburgh. I had never talked to them, didn't meet any of their coaches, and didn't even know where Pittsburgh was. I was just happy when I heard my name called. It can be frustrating. I was just glad to go on that first day and be done with it. It can be real stressful, but fun at the same time. My mom was happy. When my name came over on ESPN, she was happy. It was a great opportunity.
"I thought the teams that flew me in, where I met everybody, for them to pass me up and draft another guy. I wouldn't have minded if it were another position, but for them to take receivers. It was tough. I had some bitterness towards them. I had the chance to be drafted by Atlanta too. That would have been ideal for me, to play in my home city, I went to Georgia. They had two picks before the Steelers and passed me over.
"Every time I played against those teams I remembered it. I wanted to prove to them they should have picked me. I liked Tampa. Being a Southern guy, I liked it. There was a whole new start there. But I came to Pittsburgh and was great. I am very fortunate.
“If I had to give advice to guys this year, I would tell them don't get mad no matter where you are drafted. Not everybody was drafted in the first round. There are a lot of guys who wish they had the chance just to be in the NFL so be happy with whatever opportunity you get.”