The man who was the MVP of Super Bowl XL for the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be with the team next season. The Steelers plan on releasing Hines Ward from his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year.

Steelers President Art Rooney II made this statement to the Steelers official Website earlier today:

Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines’ accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A four-time Pro Bowler, Ward has spent the last  14 seasons  in Pittsburgh. He is the team’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and 100-yard receiving games. He is also only the 8th player in the history of the NFL to reach 1,000 receptions.

[steelers.com]