Obscure Spotlight: Dedric Ward

dedricwardDedric Ward was one of the last members of the New York Jets to don the dark green, Boomer Esiason-era uniform in 1997, which I maintain is the greatest uniform in the history of the NFL. Then Bill Parcells left the Patriots, took over the Jets’ job, and changed the uniforms back to the Namath-Era jersey– just another reason to despise the Big Tuna, I say.

But anyway, Dedric Ward. Parcells and the Jets selected Ward with the 88th selection of the 1997 NFL Draft. He played ten games as a rookie, mostly on special teams, save for one breakout performance in a November 9 loss to the Dolphins, in which Ward caught six passes for 108 yards.

Ward was a speedy receiver with a penchant for making long receptions, and had his best season in 2000 for New York. That year he started all 16 games, catching 54 passes for 801 yards and three touchdowns. That season would be his last as a Jet however, as New York released him the following February.

Ward moved onto Miami, but never regained his status as an every-week starter. He would start just two games in two seasons for Miami, relegated to a slot receiver and special-teamer.

In 2003, Dedric Ward began the year with Baltimore, where he played three games, but recorded no receptions, and the Ravens released him. The Patriots signed Ward, and Tom Brady threw to him three times for 33 yards in his first game, a 23-20 overtime victory against the Texans. The following week, Ward had his most memorable performance in years, when he caught a 31-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Colts. This November 30 game at the RCA Dome turned into a classic Brady-Manning shootout, and New England won a 38-34 thriller, in one of the greatest finishes in NFL regular season history.

That game was Ward’s last hurrah in the NFL, however, as he was released at the end of the ’03 season. His time in New England earned him a Super Bowl ring. Parcells later reunited with Ward in Dallas for a brief stint. Ward finished his career, which spanned parts of 8 seasons, with 167 catches for 2307 yards. He scored 12 NFL touchdowns.

Ward is in the Northern Iowa University Athletic Hall of Fame, and is almost certainly the greatest receiver ever to play there. He is currently the wide receivers coach for his alma mater.

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