He’s the legendary Pittsburgh Steeler who broke records (and one opponent’s jaw) on the field, then broke hearts in the Dancing With the Stars ballroom before retiring from the NFL last May to become an NBC football analyst. Now Hines Ward is testing his game in a whole new arena — the kitchen — as a contestant on Season 2 of Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, battling Johnny Weir, Kathy Najimy, Carnie Wilson, Gilbert Gottfried and others for celeb-chef supremacy.
“I thought it would be good that people can see a side of me that they don’t normally get to see — a fun and relaxed side of me,” Ward says. ”But don’t get me wrong, it’s a competition, so I am going into it to try to win it.”
Hines — whose mom is Korean — suspects actor Dean McDermott (husband of Tori Spelling and dad to their four small kids) will be his toughest competition, but he plans to make the most of a not-so-secret weapon: “I think I bring some of the ‘Asian persuasion’ in my cooking.”
In addition to cooking competitively and analyzing the action on the football field, Ward is also training for the 2013 Kona Ironman championships as part of the “Become One” program, sponsored by Refuel’s “got chocolate milk?” campaign. And he still found time to answer our “7 Questions.”
If your television only aired three programs, which three would you choose?
Martin, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Ice Loves Coco. I like to laugh.
What has been your oddest fan encounter?
When a fan asked me to sign her 4-day-old baby’s head. That was pretty unusual.
What are three must-haves in your pantry or fridge?
Hot sauce, fruit and chocolate milk, of course.
You’ve achieved my ultimate goal of becoming a zombie on The Walking Dead in an upcoming episode. What was your first thought when you looked in the mirror?
I scared myself! It was freaky seeing myself like that!
You’re a two-time Super Bowl champ, a Super Bowl MVP and a Dancing With the Stars winner. Should your Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off competition just give up and go home right now?
Absolutely! Just kidding — there are some really good cooks with a lot more experience than me. It’s going to be a challenge.
Did you ever feed your Steelers teammates?
Yes, I fed some of them some lasagna I made. They didn’t get sick, so it must not have been that bad.
Not many folks would consider competing in an Ironman triathlon to be the most relaxing way to spend their retirement — once a man of “Steel,” always a man of steel?
I believe so. That’s the Steeler way. We don’t shy away from a challenge, and when we go into one, we go in to make a difference and win. I know with the Ironman competition, winning is a long shot, but I am going into it like I would any football game — with everything I have in me!
Season 2 of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off airs Sundays beginning Jan. 6 on Food Network.
Images: Food Network