Sure, he won the Dancing with the Stars season 12 mirror-ball trophy
, but don’t expect to see Hines Ward strolling down Main Street at Disneyland any time soon.
"I'm getting surgery," Ward, 35, tells PEOPLE of his post-Dancing
plans. "My left thumb – the ligaments are torn."
The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl XL MVP dazzled Dancing
fans with his ballroom skills the past three months. But alas, a lingering injury from his most recent NFL season needs immediate attention. He’s scheduled for surgery Tuesday, May 31, at 7:30 am.
"I was supposed to [have surgery] before Dancing with the Stars
," says Ward, who's known for acrobatic, one-handed pass receptions on the football field. He's confident he’ll heal quickly from the procedure in time for the new season (pending the NFL lockout is resolved).
Ward postponed off-season plans for a beach vacation so he could compete in the ballroom. But now that he's made it to the finale – and winning – the surf and sun will have to wait.
"No beach this year. I didn't envision making it this far in this dance competition," Ward says with a smile. "But I'm happy to be here and hopefully we can walk away with the mirror-ball trophy."