Terrible Towels won't be waving today.
After a devoted 14-year run with the Pittsburgh Steelers, wide receiver Hines Ward will not be returning for the 2012 NFL season.
The news comes as a shock to Steelers fans, since the fan favorite star athlete had one year left on his current contract.
On the Steelers website Wednesday, Steelers President Art Rooney II made an announcement regarding Hines' new status:
"We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year. Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines' accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best."
ESPN reports that the athlete, who was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the Steelers' leader in receiving years, was due to earn $4 million during the upcoming NFL season. Back in 2009, he signed a four-year, $22 million extension with the Steelers, which would have left him with one year left on his deal.
The Dancing with the Stars season 12 champion (who turns 36 on March 8) released a statement, where he made it clear he's not letting his release send him down the road to retirement.
"This isn't how I wanted this chapter of my career to end. I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I started here 14 years ago. I do feel that I still have more football left in me and I am looking forward to playing in the NFL, again, this upcoming season."
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