July 13, 2011
Pittsburgh, PA —
As recently as July 8, 2011, Steelers receiver Hines Ward openly admitted he had an addiction to texting while driving his vehicle. In a statement on his Facebook page, Ward related, “How many of you guys and gals text while driving? I am bad at doing that. It’s very unsafe. Help remind me from time to time to stop texting, tweeting, or facebook while driving. Let’s help each other.” Later that day he wrote, “Thanks for the posts. I’m glad to see I’m not alone with my addiction. Today driving home from workouts, my phone was off and I singing songs all the way home. Ha ha and it felt good to not hear that phone make any noise. Really going to work on it.” The very next day Ward was pulled over in DeKalb County, Georgia, for what officers claimed was suspicion that the famous star, on and off of the field, was impaired or under the influence of alcohol.
Accoring to a MARTA police officer, Ward was stopped on Buford Highway in a gray Astin Martin, but was unable to pull Ward over until he had crossed over into DeKalb County. The police officer then turned the case over to DeKalb County officers.
At 3:41 a.m., Ward was booked into the DeKalb County jail, charged with driving under the influence after officers claimed that Ward had been operating his vehicle in a dangerous manner, hitting a curb and not maintaining travel within his lane of traffic. During the stop, Atlanta police officers report that Ward smelled of alcohol. Given field sobriety tests, officers also claimed that although Ward fully cooperated with them, he had difficulties maintaining his balance and reciting the alphabet. Ward admitted to officers that he’d consumed two beers three hours previous to the incident.
Following the incident, Andrew Ree, an agent/manager of the HW Management team released a statement to the press, stating, “From our preliminary investigation we can tell you that we are confident that the facts will show that Hines was not impaired by alcohol while driving. However, Hines is deeply saddened by this incident and apologizes to his fans and the Steelers organization for this distraction.” Ree has released no new information about his client. Ward was released on bond later that day. Ward is scheduled for a court appearance on October 6th and could be handed a misdemeanor DUI charge which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Cory Yager, Ward’s attorney pointed out, “Since prohibition ended in 1933, drinking and thereafter driving a car is not illegal and what we’re contesting at this point is that Mr. Ward was not impaired by that alcohol. Yager went on to say that a field sobriety test truly has no pass or fail. “It’s the police officers subjective opinion of what occurred…and just because someone writes it in a report doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true.”
The traffic stop was recorded on the dash camera of the DeKalb County officer, although the department has refused to turn over the evidence, stating that it breaks protocol since the case is active and under investigation.
No spokesman from the Steelers organization has responded to requests for comments on the case.
Following the news release, Steelers fans who follow the former Super Bowl MVP, member of two Super Bowl Steelers teams, four-time Pro Bowl selection and current Dancing With the Stars champion earlier this year, shared mixed reactions via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A support page has been set up on Facebook called “We Support Hines Ward” in an effort to show that many Steelers fans (650 members as of this article) support Wards’ claims that he was not impaired. Other fans have shared expressions of disappointment that one of their most noteable and honorable players would make a decision to drive while impaired. Ward has been nominated for consideration for the honor of The President’s Citizens Medal. Ward has also been named an ‘ambassador’ for his work with Korean-American and South Korean children of mixed race. Fans were shocked to hear the news that Ward may be convicted of a crime after proving to be so gracious in nature.
On May 5, 2011, Ward was involved in a traffic stop in Los Angeles, CA, and was detained at gunpoint when police officers responded to a report of a stolen vehicle. Ward was in the company of a female friend who had reported her car stolen on April 19, but later discovered that a valet had parked it in an unfamiliar location. The female friend hadn’t contacted the police department to inform them that she had discovered and recoverd her vehicle. Although Ward was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed, he cooperated while detained. He and the female passenger were released after the story was verified.
Stan Harris, a long-time Steelers fan blogged yesterday that, “Fans shouldn’t jump to immediate conclusions about whether or not Ward is guilty or innocent of the charges laid against him. Ward is the type of man who takes responsibilities for his actions even when sharing opinions that have not been popular. It would be premature to assume he has been accurately portrayed by the media or the DeKalb County police department. If he wasn’t such a man, I do not think that President Obama would have given Hines a Presidential appointment to the Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “
“If Hines (Ward) was driving under the influence, he should suffer the consequences of his actions. If he was on his phone, he should be aware that many states now ban that and that doing so can cause serious accidents,” Gerald Hammer of Ohio stated online. “Does this lower my opinion of (Ward)? I would have to say yes. I think it is bad press for the team and shows a disregard for public safety.”
Until further information is released, Steelers fans remain divided on whether or not Ward’s actions have in any way affected the team or Ward’s own reputation.
Are you a Steelers fan who would like to add your two cents worth? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Enter the “7 in Eleven” contest being held by the Pittsburgh Steelers Examiner today!
Every time a Steelers fan subscribes to Steelers articles on joltleft.com, an angel watches over Heinz Field. Become part of the ‘Steeler Nation’ today!
Are you on Facebook? Friend Pittsburgh Steelers Examiner Christina to talk Steelers.
To email Christina click here.
Twitter and re-Tweet this article by following @3Rivers_Writer
OTHER EXAMINERS WHO WRITE ABOUT THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS (NFL)
Matt Pawlikowski Danny Cox
NFL EXAMINERS ON FACEBOOK
Steelers Facebook groups that Christina participates in (all fans encouraged to join in on the fun):
- Steelers Sisters
- Die-Hard Steelers
- I am a Proud Citizen of Steelers Nation
- Steeler Fever
- Black and Gold Pride
Are you a Steelers fan from Mexico or Latin-America, or read primarily in Spanish? See these articles made especially for you