FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — It’s a meaningless game for the New York Jets, but offensive assistant Hines Ward wants a championship-like celebration if they defeat his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It will be special for me, but I’m a competitive guy,” Ward said Friday. “I want to win. I want to beat the Steelers as much as anybody in this building, trust me. I’m telling my guys, ‘You have to win this for me.’ I want the Gatorade shower and all that if we win.”
Ward, a legendary Steelers receiver who won two Super Bowls and was a Super Bowl MVP during his 14 years in Pittsburgh, said this is the first time in his career that he’s rooting against the Steelers.
“It’s kind of weird,” he said. “I played my entire career there. Having people on the staff department, they want to go out to dinner [Saturday], things like that. It’s Christmas weekend in New York City, so everybody wants to come in.”
Ward, 43, said his phone is blowing up with ticket requests and well wishes. It’s a Jets home game, but the Steelers’ fan base travels well and MetLife Stadium likely will be invaded by Terrible Towel-waving fans Sunday.
Ward was hired as a full-time member of the Jets’ coaching staff after a training camp internship. He said he enjoys the job, although he admitted coaches’ hours are a lot longer than he expected.
“I’ve tried television, I’ve tried a lot of different things,” he said. “I, of course, did ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ There’s nothing like being around a locker room and being around an organization.
“For me, I’ve been to the pinnacle, I’ve been to the mountaintop. I’ve been very blessed. I’ve gotten everything I want out of football and I want to share that experience and knowledge with younger guys.”
Ward ventured into enemy territory last week with a road trip to Baltimore, one of the Steelers’ AFC North rivals. He said Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh was surprised to see him in Jets gear. As for the Ravens’ fans, Ward cracked, “I heard some F-yous.”