03/13/2011 at 06:00 PM EDT
Hines Ward is focused on winning a title, but his dreams have nothing to do with football right now.
"I want that mirror ball trophy," he told PEOPLE Saturday while celebrating his birthday in Las Vegas. "That's what it's all about."
Now two weeks into training for Dancing with the Stars
, the Pittsburgh Steelers standout is spending five hours a day trying to learn the waltz, two-step and other dances that, up until recently, he'd only heard of but never actually done. And in terms of practicing on the football field versus practicing for the ballroom, it's no comparison.
"Practicing for Dancing
is way harder," he said. "I've never ballroom danced. Ballroom is technical ... I saw other NFL guys do it and I thought, 'That looks easy.' "
Despite other professional football players going all the way to the finale in past seasons of DWTS
, Ward doesn't feel pressure to perform well, but he still wants to show the NFL fraternity what he can do.
"I have to go out and hold up my end of the bargain," he said at a party inside The Palms Casino Resort's Moon Nightclub with his partner Kym Johnson by his side.
And like he does in football, Ward has already sized up someone he considers to be tough competition.
"Sugar Ray [Leonard] has the drive to be the best at what he does," he said. "I look at him as someone who will be a real threat."