updated 05/24/2011 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/27/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
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.”