July 9th, 2011, the day that will mark the 3rd season in a row that someone on the Steelers has run into "off the field" problems. The 2 previous seasons involved Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his alleged problems in Las Vegas and in Georgia. I say alleged because nothing was ever proven and Ben was not found guilty of these crimes. That's something we've all dissected 9 ways to Sunday since, so there's no need to dive into it again.
The latest problem facing a player on a team that hates to be in the public eye as it is, let alone in a negative manner, is Receiver Hines Ward who was arrested on suspicion of DUI while in Georgia. Ward's business agents have stated that their client was not drunk at the time of the incident. The DeKalb County Sheriff said Ward was booked and released on $1,300 bond. Reports say that Ward was driving his Aston Martin when he hit a curb, which caused Police to pull him over. Hines refused a breathalyzer test but did cooperate fully and peacefully with police other than that. Hines stated that he had 2 drinks while out with a friend. The friend had not been drinking and was able to drive the car home instead of having it impounded.
There are a ton of questions that we all want to know the answers too; such as why didn't his friend drive instead? Why did he refuse the test by police? Did his agent inform him that if this should ever happen to refuse the test? Did Hines really only have 2 drinks? What drinks were they? The list goes on and on but we will only know what Hines will allow us to know and whatever the authorities will release on this case in the future.
Having said that I think the Steeler Nation and the rest of those with an opinion should really take a step back before flying off the handle or passing judgment. Regardless of the fact that drinking and driving is illegal and can be deadly at any given moment, countless millions of Americans go to their local watering hole every day for a couple drinks after work and then drive home. Whether this includes you or not let's remember that we have no proof that he was legally drunk nor do we know any of the facts other than what has been reported to date by the media. Perhaps this is a good wake up call for a guy that's been the twinkle in the eye's of Steeler fans all across the globe since he came to the team when Bill Cowher drafted him. He is the ultimate success story in the NFL and in life whether you are a fan of the Steelers or not.
He's not invincible and we have no evidence to suspect that he thinks he is in the first place. People make mistakes, things happen in life that we wish would not happen. Maybe he needed a wake up call, maybe he did not, but let's not put on our judgement hats in haste. Just because Hines is a celebrity, doesn't make him any better or worse than us when it comes to this situation.
More facts will come to light in the coming days and weeks I'm sure, and we have no idea how the NFL or the Steelers organization will punish Ward, if at all. Remember, with the lockout in place it's not a regular offseason like we're used too. His image will surely take a hit even after such a successful offseason highlighted by his Dancing with the Stars campaign in which Ward and partner Kym Johnson won the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy from the ABC hit TV series. For the record I don't condone drinking and driving and I know terrible tragedies can occur in an instant when someone is under the influence. Personally, I have close friends who have lost loved ones due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Life lessons can be costly in many different ways. In the end though folks, he's human, we're human, and humans do things they regret at times. Fortunately, no harm was done other than to his reputation and his car, both of which can be repaired. So take that into account before you want to start calling for his release by the Rooney's.