(Photo: Sporting News via Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)
Super Bowl MVP, Dancing With the Stars champ, actor, Sunday Night Football analyst, chocolate milk drinker…Indeed, Hines Ward is a man of many hats. He stopped by our office to talk about his next challenge.
You had a fantastic NFL career—1,000 receptions, 12,000 yards. Looking back, what stands out the most?
When I was a kid in elementary school, I’d be out on recess the day after the Super Bowl, and I’d always pretend to be whoever won the MVP. So after so much hard work to get to the NFL and go to the Super Bowl and be named the MVP, it’s almost surreal to me. It’s something that goes down in history and no one can ever take away.
After 10, 11 years of going over the middle and taking all that punishment, did it ever get hard just to get out of bed?
You get pretty stiff. When I was younger I would play a game, go out, and party, and be ready to go again on Monday. As I got older I did less partying because it took two, three days to recover. I also had to start eating right, stretching, doing a lot of core work.
So when you were done with the NFL, the natural next step was to get out and do some dancing?
Playing in the NFL created some other opportunities for me, and one of them was Dancing With the Stars.
Your partner, Kym Johnson, is quite a hoofer.
Oh, yeah, she was a great partner. I was thankful to have her. We went on to win that competition. And it opened up an even broader audience. All of a sudden I’m getting pulled aside at gas stations and grocery stores. It was whole new celebrity status.
That’s what allowed you to become a zombie?
IronE Singleton, one of the main characters on The Walking Dead, was a teammate of mine at the University of Georgia. So they brought me in and put some leaves on me and said they wanted me as one of the zombies. It was a great honor. I’m a big fan of the show. It was awesome to be out there late at night walking around like I’m gonna get someone. Unfortunately they shot me in the head, and that was the end of that.
And now you’re training for the most grueling of sports competitions, the Iron Man triathlon.
Yeah, after 14 years in the NFL, I thought I was in pretty good shape. When I started training for the Iron Man, I never felt so out of shape in my life. Being an endurance athlete is at the other end of the spectrum from being a football player. It’s like night and day.
The triathlon you just completed was 70 miles. What’s the breakdown?
It’s a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. As a guy who never ran more than a mile, to compete in Iron Man competitions is beyond my wildest dreams. And the Kona Iron Man is double all that.
We don’t know about that kind of training, but we can get behind chugging chocolate milk. Is that really part of your regimen?
Yeah, to become an endurance athlete you have to learn how to refuel. A lot of athletes think of sports drinks as the fastest way to recover. But a lot of them are mostly sugar. Sure you feel great, but they don’t give you the necessities to help your body repair. Chocolate milk has the electrolytes, the carbs, and the protein to replenish your muscles.
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