By Teresa Varley
There is only one team that heads into the offseason with a true sense of satisfaction and wide receiver Hines Ward knows how lucky he is to experience that feeling for the second time in four years.
"You lose and all you do is reflect on the things you could have done," said Ward. "Now that we won the Super Bowl, you get to enjoy it with everybody. You get to enjoy all the festivities with your family and your friends where you grew up as a child and it's a special occasion.
"We are going to enjoy it. We are champions until someone dethrones us. We are going to enjoy it all the way until training camp."
Ward takes pride in playing in four AFC Championship games in his 11 seasons with the Steelers and course the two Super Bowl wins are the ultimate for him.
"To put this organization on top of all the other organizations is definitely a special feat in itself," said Ward. "This is definitely a top class organization and it should be. We are accustomed to winning championships. It is just a special meaning when you walk upstairs and see all the Lombardi Trophies. It is a sense of pride for wearing black and gold."
When the Steelers won Super Bowl XL the players could not have been happier for running back Jerome Bettis, who retired before even making it to the locker room.
This year, while there was no one player that the team rallied around like Bettis, there were a lot of great stories and guys who overcame a lot to win Super Bowl XLIII.
Among the stories that touched teammates was the battle Ryan Clark went through just to get back on the field this year after his health issues last season and the fight that Aaron Smith's five-year old son Elijah, who has battled leukemia this season, has endured.
"I look at a guy like Ryan who had complications with his liver and Aaron and the situation he is going through. I just get overwhelmed," said Ward. "This Super Bowl is really for those guys. A guy like Orpheus Roye who started his career here and then went to a rival team in Cleveland and really never had success there and coming back here and getting a ring. Tight end Sean (McHugh) coming from Detroit and now he's a World Champion.
"You just sit back and you look and you reflect on all the players who took part in this Super Bowl quest. I was happier for those guys as well."
Ward, who had tears in his eyes after the game, was also someone who overcame the odds. He suffered a knee injury in the AFC Championship game that normally would keep a player out of action for five to six weeks. Instead he returned in just two weeks.
"I'm an emotional guy," said Ward. "For 11 years I've laid it all on the line for this organization, for this team. I was just emotional. I couldn't believe it. You know looking around and seeing those guys that I just spoke about enjoying it with their families. I was happier for Ryan Clark. He was almost done with football and for him to get his first Super Bowl win. For me it was just overwhelming. I was very emotional just to see each individual on this team accomplish something that they really wanted to, not only for themselves, but for their families, and from where they came from."