Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who appears in a cameo role in "The Dark Knight Rises," released a statement to ESPN over the weekend about the Aurora, Colo., shooting last week.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims involved in the terrible tragedy in Colorado. Such a senseless act," he said. "Innocent lives lost. It's truly a shame and my heart goes out to them all."
Ward, who retired this spring and will work for NBC this fall, answered a few questions from Playbook last week, before the shooting.
1. What was your reaction to seeing the film?
"I actually took my 8-year-old son with me to the premieres in NYC and Pittsburgh earlier this week. It was a special time for my son and me, and the movie was amazing."
2. How did you get involved in the movie, and how do you think you did?
"The producer, Thomas Tull of Legendary Pictures, asked me if I wanted to do the cameo and I was excited. It was a big honor. I grew up watching the Batman cartoons and have seen the Batman movies. As far as my scene goes, it was surreal, and I think I did pretty well. I had a blast doing it."
3. You’re going to be switching careers this fall working as an NFL announcer for NBC. How much will you miss playing football?
"You know, I will always miss playing the game, but I felt it was my time to leave the field. I mean, I am blessed to have accomplished so much in my 14 years with the Steelers: four Pro Bowls, three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl championships and a Super Bowl MVP honor. I really had nothing left to prove to myself or anyone else. So while it's a bittersweet feeling to leave the game, I am leaving with a sense of satisfaction that I gave it everything I had and really left nothing on the field. I also hope that I gave Steeler fans something to be proud of in my play. They mean the world to me."
4. You’re going to be a TV broadcaster, so you’ll be asked to give your opinion. You ready for that?
"You know, I am ready. I've always been one to give my honest opinion when asked. And I will continue to do that with my broadcasting career even if it means that it's not the most popular one. I'm being paid to be truthful and honest, and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
5. You obviously still have a soft spot for your Steelers. What does that franchise mean to you?
"Oh man, it will always mean the world to me. My heart will always be with my Steelers, Steeler Nation and the Rooney family, and I will always bleed black and gold. They gave me the best 14 years of my life, and I'd like to think that I gave them the same of me. I will be forever grateful to that organization for giving me a chance to live my dream."