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Dancing With The Stars Final: Hines Ward Overwhelming Favorite To Win Season 12, Return To Pittsburgh With Mirror Ball Trophy

It's been an incredible ride for Hines Ward on Season 12 of Dancing With The Stars. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is a world0class competitor cut from the same cutthroat cloth as guys like Michael Jordan. But a 'refuse-to-lose' mentality alone won't get you through a ballroom dancing competition. Ward would be the first to tell you that, and he did at the outset of the competition when he admitted to never having danced in any type of formal fashion.

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Ward put to bed any concerns there might have been about him embarrassing himself or the legion of Steelers fans that would be tuning in to support the organization's most statistically accomplished wide receiver. Ward looked great that first week, and never really slowed down or slipped up over the course of the next two months. Well, that's not entirely accurate. He did 'slip' and drop partner Kym Johnson during practice two Fridays ago, but Johnson recovered from the neck injury in time to perform the following Monday. And like they've done on several occasions, the duo earned the top score of the evening from the finnicky panel of judges.

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We're now down to the finals. Only two other celebrities remain in the competition -- Disney star Chelsea Kane and Kirstie Alley, who sadly might be better known amongst a younger generation for her weight issues than for her many great appearances on television and the movie screen. In a sign that could spell trouble for Ward, he and Johnson are heavy favorites to finish their remarkable run and win the Mirror Ball Trophy. Before explaining why, here are the odds courtesy of Bodog.

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Odds to Win Dancing With the Stars 12

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Hines Ward                               1/2

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Chelsea Kane                            3/1

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Kirstie Alley                               4/1

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Now, if this were a legitimate competition rather than a made-for-TV reality show, I'd feel confident that Ward would win. He's established himself as the most competent and consistent dancer throughout the season. But where's the 'drama' in the front-runner winning without any suspense? Unless either Kane or Alley stumbles in an inexcusable way, I imagine the producers will have the judges issue out scores that keep the margin of error miniscule. The 'drama' would then be on as fans rush to vote for their favorite. And finally, at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, it's also worth reminding folks of Kane's affiliation with Disney, who ahem, is the proud proprietor of ABC and the immensely popular reality show.  Future Disney programming featuring Kane couldn't hurt from a little DWTS victory, no?

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He better win, but regardless of the outcome, Steeler Nation wishes Ward luck and salutes him for the impressive talent and dignity he's showcased to the rest of the non-football loving world in the latest season of Dancing With The Stars. Go Hines! Go Steelers!

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.