Aging NFL wide receiver Hines Ward may be facing an off season of uncertainty, but he did receive some good news recently when prosecutors decided to drop their DUI charges against the star football player.
Ward, who was arrested in DeKalb County, Georgia months ago for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, will not face trial for a DUI but will instead receive a year of probation, according to a report from Fox News.
Last week, DeKalb County Prosecutor Sonja N. Brown announced that Ward pleaded guilty to a less crime—reckless driving—and was sentenced to a year of probation.
In addition to his year of probation, Ward will also reportedly be fined $2,000 and he will have to perform 80 hours of community service, although his blocking efforts in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense will not count towards this service requirement.
Ward, who gained fame with a non-football audience when he won a “Dancing With the Stars” competition a few years ago, was arrested in 2011 after he ran into a curb after failing to stay in his lane while driving.
The 35-year-old wide receiver, who was voted the Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XL, reportedly failed several field sobriety tests after his accident. Ward was booked into the DeKalb County jail after his arrest but was soon released on bond.
Ward’s release from his DUI charges has stirred up a bit of controversy, as public watchdogs claim that less famous citizens in similar circumstances may not have been quite so lucky.
Indeed, famous athletes and celebrities often seem to face more lenient sentences for certain crimes, although this charge can be hard to prove.
Still, Ward’s brisk release from drunk driving charges, even after he failed several field sobriety tests, has created a predictable amount of public outcry.
In addition to public criticism, the legal headache of the mandatory year of probation added more stress to an uncertain time for Ward, who, at 35 years old, has passed his prime as an NFL wide receiver.
In his younger years, Ward was a dangerous receiver for the Steelers, but he saw his targets decline last season as Pittsburgh’s offense utilized its younger receivers like Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace.
And, even though Ward has two years remaining on his contract with the Steelers, the team is reportedly considering cutting the veteran wide receiver. Since most NFL contracts are not guaranteed, teams often drop fading stars to cut salary and pursue younger players.