- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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A year removed from being part of the Steelers, Hines Ward sees "a locker room in disarray."
Ward, who retired after the 2012 season, told the NFL Network that you wouldn't hear quotes about in-house friction -- like the anonymous one about LaMarr Woodley -- if he was still part of the team. The Steelers parted ways with several strong leaders in Ward, linebacker James Farrior and defensive end Aaron Smith at the same time, which many think is a reason why the locker room is coming unglued.
"When you lose so much leadership in the locker room, that's when things present itself like that," Ward said. "Guys start finger-pointing, calling out other guys. That is not the Steeler way. We've always had a rule: We are a band of brothers. We've always collectively kept everything in house. ... But there was no finger-pointing and calling each other out. That's a total disarray, a locker room in disarray."
While I agree with Ward that the Steelers need leaders to step up, let's not forget that Ward created some turmoil himself when he was in Pittsburgh. In November 2009, he called out quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for not playing against the Ravens with a concussion. But, for the most part, Ward was viewed as a solid leader.
Ward also gave the Steelers some advice that they probably won't be able to follow: Pay Mike Wallace.
"The guy is a phenomena," said Ward, who clearly hasn't heard about the Steelers' cap problem. "He changes the defense. He makes you play Cover-2 all the time. You put this guy in one-on-one coverage and not too many guys who can run toe to toe with Mike Wallace. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they need to try to find a way to keep this guy. He helps the other guys, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, and opens things up for them. Hoefully he can sign and stay with Pittsburgh."
The problem is, without Ward's leadership, the Steelers young wide receivers (who were known to be selfish and focused on numbers) might have played a role in the splintering inside the locker room.