By Bob Allen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Hines Ward was a fan favorite and many say they are happy to see him end the game as a Steeler.

“Today I came back to Pittsburgh to grant Steeler nation just one last request,” he said during his retirement news conference. “So today, I’m officially retiring as a Pittsburgh Steeler.”

No. 86 usually caught everything thrown his way, but that’s not the only reason he became a huge fan favorite.

“He hit like a linebacker, played wide receiver with a linebacker’s mentality,” one fan said.

“His energy, his spirit on the field, he was really uplifting and he was really good for the team,” added another fan.

Ward never gave in to opponents even after taking a punishing blow.

“I love his smile,” another Hines Ward fan said. “I think it’s great that he gets hit as hard as they can hit him and he gets up smiling. I love it.”

After 14 years, Ward retires with two Super Bowl rings, a Super Bowl MVP title and the Steelers all-time leading receiver with 1,000 catches.

“I guess he wants to go out as a Steeler and he’s a consummate pro,” a fan told KDKA-TV.

“He’s gonna do well wherever he goes,” predicted another fan.

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