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Even in news conference, Springsteen entertains

TAMPA, Fla. - Bruce Springsteen walked into a packed banquet room in the Tampa Convention Center yesterday afternoon and had an announcement.

"If there's going to be a lot of questions about football, this is going to be the shortest press conference ever," said the New Jersey native, who will perform with the rest of the E Street Band at halftime of Sunday's Super Bowl. "Because I don't know anything about it."

No matter. Those in attendance were not there to hear Springsteen, who released the CD "Working on a Dream" on Tuesday, break down the tendencies of the Cardinals or the Steelers.

Those considered football media "celebrities" snapped photos with their camera phones when Springsteen took to the dais and hung on every word the 59-year-old rock star uttered. Needless to say, so did much of the entertainment media - along with assorted VIPs - in what is believed to be Springsteen's first news conference since 1987, when he held one for Amnesty International.

Springsteen drew several laughs, the loudest being when he was asked which songs the band will perform. "I'm the Boss!" he said to a roar. "The Boss decides what we play. Nobody else decides. People suggest. Hint. Beg. Cajole. But I decide."

Ward returns for Steelers

Wide receiver Hines Ward, who sat out Wednesday's practice nursing the knee injury he suffered in the AFC title game against the Ravens, participated fully in yesterday's workout.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, the recipient of the Coach of the Year award earlier in the day, fielded several questions about Ward, but also a few about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Profootballtalk.com reported that Roethlisberger, who took a hard shot in the rib/back area against Baltimore, had undergone X-rays on his back this week.

"Not that I heard," Tomlin told a pool reporter after practice. "Ben's health is often the subject of inaccurate reports. He's fine."

There were no Steelers listed on the team's injury report. For the Cardinals, RB J.J. Arrington (knee), P Ben Graham (left groin), DE Travis LaBoy (biceps) and DE Antonio Smith (knee) were limited, as they were Wednesday.

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