PITTSBURGH -- A tearful Hines Ward announced Tuesday he was retiring from the NFL and "will remain a Steeler for life."
Ward, who was scheduled to make $4 million in 2012, was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this offseason. The 14-year veteran receiver is coming off a season in which he finished with 46 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns, the lowest totals in each category since he was a rookie in 1998.
He is the franchise's all-time leader in every major receiving category, including receptions, yards and touchdowns. Ward said following his release he believed he "still had some football in him," but changed his mind.
The 36-year-old Ward became the eighth player in league history to reach 1,000 career receptions in the regular-season finale against Cleveland. He and Jerry Rice are the only players in league history to reach 1,000 receptions and win multiple Super Bowls.
The Legacy of Hines Ward
Yet Ward's role within the offense diminished as Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders passed him on the depth chart and Mike Wallace became a Pro Bowler.
The 2006 Super Bowl MVP did not catch a pass in Pittsburgh's 29-23 overtime loss to Denver in the wild-card round, the first time in Ward's career he was held without a reception in a postseason game.