I enjoy watching athletes compete on a stage other than the one they are pro’s in. To see highly skilled dudes put themselves on the line competing in a foreign venue is entertaining viewing to me, no matter what the format is.
So tuning in Hines Ward on “Dancing with the Stars” was a no-brainer. In my view, you could not have a more challenging format for Hines to compete in than dancing.
As a sideline non-combatant for the Steelers Broadcasting Network, i have a ringside seat and been fortunate to have watched Hines’ career from a close vantage point. Hines is a great player, a Hall-of-Famer in the waiting, but there is one area that Hines has lacked. His attempts at post-touchdown dancing celebrations over the course of his career have not been wildly successful.
Notice i am talking about dancing and not Hines’ normal routine of simply handing the ball to a fan bearing a Ward jersey. High fives and smiles, Hines’ post-td celebrations are fun. When he’s tried to dance in the past, his attempts were memorable for a reason, but not the reason you’d want.
As evidence, i merely offer the time he did his own version of the “Dirty Bird” after scoring a six-pointer against Philadelphia. Hines was mocking then Philly WR Terrell Owens while apparently trying to freestyle his own version but, let’s just say that little end zone shuffle didn’t go particularly well.
In other words when i heard Hines was going to do DWTS, i was not holding out much hope that Hines would “cut the rug” with any great deal of success, no matter how much of a pro his partner Kym Johnson is.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Hines crushed the performance in my opinion. Energetic, graceful, charismatic Hines looked just as comfortable doing the “Cha-cha” as he does doing the “Got’cha.” (The latter being what’s said while standing over a defensive player who’s in another time zone).
Think about how much pressure was on him with a live audience and all those viewers snackerating on their couches back at home. Sure, it ain’t the Super Bowl, but i dare anyone to say if they stood in Ward’s shoes just before go-time they wouldn’t have a little quiver in their quake.
Over the course of my 12-year football career i have boxed professionally, sumo wrestled (bad visual, i know) and competed in beach tug-of-war professionally, and also competed in the World’s Strongest Man and the NFL’s Strongest Man contests.
And i know from personal experience there is a real pressure to perform well even thought it’s not your “bread and butter” sport. The internal drive you feel to get to the NFL is the same competitiveness you feel when you compete in other venues, so it’s not like you’re taking a vacation. You put a lot of pressure on yourself to do well.
And it’s only week one, so more pressure will follow. But for week one, Hines smoked it.
But if nothing else, the “Standard is the standard” and i’m expecting much more in the post-td celebration department from Hines this season.