As fans waited for news to break from Friday’s Pittsburgh Steelers practice, some were reminded of the darker side of the NFL, as some salacious news broke involving a past Steelers star. While many of the details have not been released, a man was arrested after attempting to blackmail retired Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.Joshua Van Auker from Pittsburgh was in custody of the Pittsburgh Police Department on two felony counts of attempted extortion. He is accused of contacting Ward’s representatives and requesting that the future Hall of Fame wide receiver pay him $15,000 or he threatened to release evidence he had that Ward engaged in prostitution. He went as far as claiming that his girlfriend had an unduly familiar relationship with his girlfriend.
Van Auker was arrested after a sting operation set-up by Ward’s personal assistant and the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office. During the arrest, the police seized the reported evidence and now have it in their custody. Ironically, Ward did not know about any part of this plot until Thursday was not involved in setting up the arrest. In fact, he is not in Pittsburgh as he is traveling in preparation of his next NBC assignment.
A fan favorite, Ward is credited for being the best blocking wide receiver in the game, retired this offseason from the Steelers. The 36-year old receiver finished his 14-year career with 1,000 catches for 12,021 yards.
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