XFL Head Coach Hines “Mickey” Ward Talks About The Disney In His DNA
Before leading his San Antonio Brahmas into battle on ABC and ESPN+ on Sunday, Ward reflects on his nickname, his Mickey Mouse tattoo - as featured in ESPN The Magazine - and things Disney
When Hines Ward was starring on football fields stretching from suburban Atlanta sandlots to Super Bowl venues, his ever present smile was his trademark.
He defied the odds – and his family’s orthodontist bills – by playing without a mouthpiece.
Friends and foes nicknamed him Mickey, in reference to Mickey Mouse’s cheerful countenance. At some point, he had the image of The Walt Disney Company’s global ambassador etched into his right bicep: Notice Ward’s “Mickey” is striking the Heisman Trophy pose.
As head coach of the XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas, Ward hopes to continue his winning tradition with things Disney. The XFL’s 43-game season airs exclusively on Disney platforms this spring, including the Brahmas’ debut as they host the St. Louis Battlehawks on Sunday, Feb. 19 (ABC, ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET).
Over the years, Ward has recorded several amazing performances while being showcased on ESPN or ABC including:
- 1995 on ESPN: Ward set then-single-game individual Peach Bowl records for passing and total offense in Georgia’s quarterback in 34-27 heartbreaking loss to Virginia.
- 2006 on ABC: As a wide receiver, Ward paced the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl XL victory over the Seattle Seahawks with a Super Bowl MVP-winning performance. Hours later, Ward announced his post-game intentions to visit Disney World in an iconic commercial and the next day there, he was seated next to Mickey himself.
- 2012 on ABC: Ward and partner Kym Johnson won Dancing With The Stars
On May 13 on ABC and ESPN Deportes, Ward hopes to add the XFL Championship to his trophy case.
When he recently visited ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters, Ward – who was profiled in a 2004 edition of ESPN The Magazine feature – reflected on his love for Mickey Mouse and Disney.
Former ESPN college football analyst Anthony Becht coaches the Battlehawks, the opponents for Ward’s Brahmas. Like Ward, Becht has an ESPN The Magazine feature to reflect upon. Learn more here.
For more on The Walt Disney Company’s XFL programming, visit ESPN Press Room.
Spencer T. Jackson produced the video
ESPN and ABC are owned by The Walt Disney Company