"What is left for me to accomplish if we win this (game)?" pondered Pittsburgh's all-time leading receiver, who turns 35 next month and has already won two Super Bowl rings. "I don't know. To win another? I'm very blessed to be in a position ... to win three Super Bowls."
Ward was surpassed by Mike Wallace -- who was 12 when Ward was a rookie -- as Pittsburgh's No. 1 receiver this year. And it was rookie Antonio Brown who made the biggest catches in the Steelers' tight victories over the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets during the AFC playoffs that got them to their third Super Bowl in six years.
Reserve receiver Antwaan Randle El, whose pass to Ward clinched the Steelers' victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, said that Ward is still the same crafty and physical player he was five seasons ago. But Randle El predicted that if the AFC champion Steelers beat the NFC champion Green Bay Packers at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, he expects his buddy to retire just as Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis did after that victory in Detroit in February 2006.
Ward, whose 954 career catches are more than the combined total of Steelers 1970s Hall of Fame receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, hemmed and hawed about that kind of a repeat performance.
"How Jerome went out, that's a great feeling," Ward said. "We all (want) to go out on top. (But Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin don't want me to go. If we do win, I'd like to see if we can win four, try to repeat."
In the meantime, Ward is enjoying this week more than he did the days leading up to Super Bowls XL and XLIII (when the Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals and he started despite a gimpy knee which he had hurt in the AFC championship game against the Ravens).
"The first one was definitely a special one because it's the first time," Ward said. "You see all the movie stars, the former Super Bowl players. It's very overwhelming. I got tired (just) warming up in the pregame. The second Super Bowl I was rehabbing (so) I didn't get to experience none of that because I had ice on my knee.
"This one, I'm healthy. I'm excited. It's great considering how we started the year off, not having our quarterback for the first four games, playing musical chairs with the offensive linemen, (All Pro safety) Troy (Polamalu) missing two or three games. (Defensive end) Aaron Smith going down. (We have) just a bunch of resilient guys, a band of brothers staying together and here we are in the Super Bowl. That's what makes this Super Bowl special."
More from NFL.com: