From Super Bowl MVP to TV ballroom dance champ and now Craftsman spokesman and honorary Goodwill Ambassador -- Hines Ward's time off from football as the NFL lockout continues has been anything but downtime.
Since winning season 12 of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" in May with professional dance partner Kym Johnson, the Steelers wide receiver has garnered attention for more than just catching passes.
The reality show "definitely created some more fanfare," he said. "I thought I was known in football world, but now I'm being recognized by females all over."
His athlete-to-Astaire transformation not only surprised his family ("They were shocked," he said) but also piqued the interest of Craftsman, which approached Mr. Ward shortly after he took home the Mirror Ball trophy to promote its new interactive online series "SCREW• D: Where Survival Comes Down to the Right Tools."
- On "Dancing With the Stars" and life after the show
- On being the spokesman for Craftsman's SCREW*D online interactive reality series
- On life during the off-season
- Thoughts on the NFL lockout
- Will dance training help on the football field?
- On being named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador
- On Ben Roethlisberger's upcoming wedding
The series, which will run from mid-August to late October, follows novice handymen and women as they compete in do-it-yourself projects for the chance to win up to $50,000. People can learn more about the series or sign up through July 7 for a chance to participate at www.craftsmanscrewd.com.
"The promotion is similar to 'DWTS,' " he said. "Taking a guy like myself who's never danced a day in his life to going all the way and winning the Mirror Ball trophy. ... I want to just help people go out there and let them know if I can go out there and dance, that they can go out there and win this competition."
He will have another chance to inspire because he was recently named an honorary Goodwill Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Mr. Ward, who was born in South Korea, will help bridge ties between the country and the United States. The task goes hand in hand with his Helping Hands Foundation, which brings biracial children from Korea to the United States to experience Pittsburgh, a football game or a trip to New York City.
"It's just being the face of helping the relationship between the two countries become better than what it already is," he said.
Mr. Ward's charity keeps him busy -- so much so that he doesn't plan to attend Ben Roethlisberger's wedding slated for July 23. "I wanted to [attend], but I have a foundation thing. ... But I'm going to send them my blessings and my present."
Mr. Roethlisberger also has yet to tap his teammate's dance expertise for the reception. "If he wants Kym Johnson to teach him that first dance, she's more than welcome to do it."
When Mr. Ward isn't spreading the word about Craftsman or Korea-America relations, he is rehabbing from thumb surgery and trying to stay in shape. But he doesn't foresee him or other Steelers making dance a regular part of their training regimen.
"It definitely will help you with your coordination and your footwork, there's no question about that," he said. "But as far as guys signing up for it, I don't know."
Now Mr. Ward is just waiting to receive the phone call that the NFL lockout has ended, he said.
"Things are heading in the right direction. I'm thinking something will get done before training camp. Probably after the Fourth of July because everybody's going to be on the holiday and stuff like that, so give it about two or three weeks."
Although he is eager to get back on the football field, he's pleased with how he's been filling the wait.
"It's just been a great off-season for me, even though we're going through a crisis in NFL lockout. ... For me, the sky's the limit."
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org .