Steelers legend Hines Ward on how he came to never wear sleeves, why blocking mattered so much to him

Welcome to Episode 2 of the The Season: 2008 Steelers podcast, featuring Steelers' 2005 second-round pick and two-time Super Bowl champion Bryant McFadden, who will be your weekly guide on the 10-year anniversary of the Steelers' improbable run to their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Each week, McFadden will talk to different players from that Super Bowl-winning squad. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you'll never miss an episode.

The Steelers entered the '08 season with the league's toughest schedule and the preseason prognosticators didn't expect this team to make it back to the playoffs. In the first episode, McFadden and former teammate Ike Taylor revisit training camp, preseason and the first half of the 2008 season

And now Hines Ward joins McFadden pick up things up with the Week 11 matchup against the Chargers. The Steelers were 6-3 and coming off a home loss to Peyton Manning and the Colts.  San Diego, meanwhile, was 4-5 and featured names like Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Ward also discussed his illustrious 14-year career that began as a forgotten rookie buried on the depth chart and relegated to special teams duty, to Super Bowl MVP and one of the best wide receivers to ever play in Pittsburgh. 

"I don't really care where you put it just trust me to me to make a play," said Ward, explaining his philosophy on playing wide receiver. "I pride myself on being the go-to guy when the team needs it the most. Boy, there were a lot of guys, when I looked in that huddle, they didn't want the ball. ... 'Don't throw it to me.' But I thrived on that. ... To me, converting on third down ... that was comparable to scoring a 60-yard bomb, in my opinion."

If you love football history and want an incisive, sometimes hysterical oral history of how the 2008 Steelers overcame long odds to win it all, you've come to the right place.

Some of the highlights from  Episode 2:

  • What it was like as a third-round pick not only trying to make it in the NFL but become one of the league's best players; (5:10)
  • Why Ward wasn't fond of No-Shirt Fridays. Related: Find out what No-Shirt Fridays were all about; (5:40)
  • How did Ward, who grew up in Georgia, adjust to playing in the cold weather of Pittsburgh? And why did he never wear sleeves in cold weather? (8:20)
  • How Troy Polamalu made Ward a better player; (11:40)
  • What it was like to face off against Quentin Jammer, Antonio Cromartie and Eric Weddle; (18:00)
  • How James Harrison got all his nicknames and what he meant to his teammates; (21:40)
  • Why Ward's chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger didn't happen overnight; (24:40)
  • The list of great wide receivers who came to Pittsburgh and learned from Ward, who admits to being a selfish player early in his career; (26:40)
  • Was Ward a dirty player? (31:15)
  • What was Ward's late-game mentality to be able to shine when the game was on the line? (36:15)
CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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