Hines Ward is the first to admit that he is not a dancer, but that isn't stopping the Steelers wide receiver from putting it all out there on the dance floor as he will compete in Season 12 of ABC's popular reality show "Dancing With The Stars."
"I got a couple of text messages telling me I can't dance but I better go win this thing," said Ward. "I knew I was going to catch a lot of wrath from my teammates for being on Dancing with the Stars. This is a chance for me have fun."
Ward, along with 10 others, was announced as part of the cast and will have to be in dancing mode when the show premieres on March 21.
"I knew about two weeks ago I was going to be on," said Ward on Tuesday, still a little bit sleepy after taking a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta in time to be on Good Morning America. "We had to keep it a secret. My name was in the poll of people they wanted on the show and lucky for me they chose me."
Current and former NFL players have been on the show in past seasons, including Chad Johnson, Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice, Jason Taylor, Lawrence Taylor, Warren Sapp, Emmitt Smith and Kurt Warner. Sapp finished second on season seven of the show, while Smith won it all in season three.
"I watched it when a couple of football players did it," said Ward. "I watched those guys a little bit. It looked intriguing. It was something I was interested in and wondered if I could do it if given the opportunity. The opportunity is here and I have the chance to showcase my dance skills a little bit for ballroom dancing."
"I am like the silly dancer. I got out and just dance silly. I never had to go out and do the fox trot, cha-cha and salsa dance."
For someone who isn't intimidated at all on the football field, that fox trot is something Ward is concerned about.
"The fox trot probably scares me the most," admitted Ward. "Everything is about your posture. Being a football player it's hard to hold that posture move for over a minute and a half. Your muscles won't let you do that."
The show teams celebrities with professional dancers, competing for the Mirror Ball Trophy, which is awarded on the season finale on May 24. Ward knows that his talent will have to carry him most of the way to be the winner, but he also is going to have to show the smile and personality he is known for as well.
"I watched Warren Sapp. He went out there and had fun," said Ward. "His personality came out. That's what separated him from the rest of the crowd. I am going to have fun with it, smile and do my thing. I am not there to be a professional ballroom dancer. I am a football player, I have been doing it my whole life. To get the opportunity to join some other celebrities out there to try and get that mirror ball trophy.
"I definitely want to win it. I don't want to use my offseason to fall short of my goal. Once I start something I want to finish it. We weren't able to win the Super Bowl but this is my way to put it behind me and move on. For me it's redemption, getting the opportunity to win a prestigious trophy. You know me. I am the most competitive guy out there. I won't leave the dance studio until I am comfortable with it. That's just the dedication and discipline I have with my work ethic."
He will be facing some tough competition, though. Among those joining Ward on the show this year are actress Kirstie Alley, deejay Mike Catherwood, WWE's Chris Jericho, Disney's Chelsea Kane, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, actor Ralph Macchio, supermodel Petra Nemcova, rapper Romeo, reality TV's Kendra Wilkinson and talk show host Wendy Williams.
Who does Ward think will give him the biggest challenge from the group?
"I would say Sugar Ray," said Ward. "He is an athlete. You have to be very good with your footwork. He is a little older now, but he looks good, he is fit. He runs and he stays in shape. He is the front runner now looking at all of the competitors. I would have to put him up there. He is somebody I have to keep an eye on.
"I am just going to trust my dance partner and experience this to the fullest. I trust my dance partner. Hopefully she leads me all of the way."
Ward is going to need some help from Steelers Nation along the way, though. Judges score each contestant after their performance on Monday nights, but it's also up to the viewers who can either call in or vote online for each of the celebrity dancers after the show and he hopes Steelers fans come up big for him.
"That is all I have is Steelers Nation," said Ward, who hopes Tuesday night result shows are good for him. "All of the other celebrities, Wendy Williams has her own show, Kendra has her own show. I am up there with the Karate Kid and I grew up watching him. Here I am about to compete with him in a dance contest.
"I am excited. Steelers Nation travels well and shows support. Hopefully I can go out there and put on a good show and all of Steelers Nation will show their support."
Ward's dance partner was recently announced and will be Kym Johnson.