Le’Veon Bell wasn’t the only Steeler-turned-New York Jet celebrating on Sunday, as assistant Hines Ward was saluted by his new squad.
An ice bath probably isn’t ideal in the middle of December. Hines Ward was more than happy to make an exception on Sunday afternoon.
The New York Jets‘ offensive assistant was the toast of the sidelines in the closing stages of a 16-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the offense kneeled to help run out the clock, Ward was attacked with the Gatorade-branded bucket in a group led by receiver Braxton Berrios. Ward spent the entirety of a 14-year NFL playing career with the opposing Steelers.
Ward’s bath fulfilled a wish he made public earlier in the week. His pupils were more than happy to oblige.
“We knew it meant a lot to him. He’s been great all year ever since he’s been here,” head coach Adam Gase said. “He’s been very appreciative of the fact that we gave him an opportunity and kept him on staff. He’s done a great job with our guys.”
Ward joined the Jets’ staff this summer. His Pittsburgh legacy remains massive. He remains the franchise’s leader in receptions (1,000), receiving yards (12,083), and touchdowns (85). Ward was also named to the Steelers’ all-time team in 2007 and earned MVP honors after the team’s fifth championship in Super Bowl XL.
Players were happy to earn a win for the former bearers of the black and yellow. Joining Ward in Pittsburgh defection was running back Le’Veon Bell, who played five seasons in the Steel City. Bell had 72 yards on 25 carries in a win that put a severe dent in Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes.
The Steelers (8-7) saw their competition for the final AFC playoff likewise fall, as the Tennessee Titans dropped a 38-28 decision to the New Orleans Saints. New York’s victory, however, knotted the two contenders’ conference marks at 6-5. The second tiebreaker is strength of victory, where Tennessee has a decent advantage.
Other former Steelers in the New York ranks include defensive lineman Steve McLendon and offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum.
“At the end of the day, and I’ve said this over and over, when you have 11 guys that are ready to play for one another and fight for one another, you have great results,” Beachum said of the win. “When you just have a group of guys that really don’t care about who’s playing, who’s paid, who’s not paid, who’s starting, who’s not starting, when they get an opportunity to go and perform, they’re going to perform.”
The Jets (6-9) partake in their season finale next Sunday against the Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490