Hines Ward said on "Good Morning America." today that his win on "Dancing With the Stars" Tuesday night is still sinking in, especially for a jock who has spent his entire life on the football field, not the dance floor.
"When I signed up, I'd never danced in my whole life," the NFL star told "GMA" in his first post-finale interview. "I was so scared. I didn't even go to my prom."
Ward and fellow finalists, actress Kirstie Alley and Disney Channel star Chelsea Kane and their professional partners, were welcomed to "GMA" by crowds of fans waving yellow "Terrible Towels," a reference to Ward's day job as an All-Pro wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"This competition was so close throughout the whole season that we knew it was going to come down to the fans' vote," said Ward, who shares the trophy with his professional partner, Kym Johnson. "Steeler Nation and all the fans were just great."
"The fans have just been wonderful," Kane agreed on "GMA." "To be in the finals, it's really just surreal and amazing."
Another point all the finalists, and their partners, agreed on while appearing on "GMA" is the intensity, both physically and mentally, demanded by the competition.
Ward compared the 10 weeks of the show to the intensity of NFL training camp, and said he was ready to get back on the field because the dancing kept him in such great shape.
"I think we've all lost weight," he said.
"It's the hardest physically I've ever worked in my life," agreed Alley, who made no bones from day one of the season about her goal to lose weight during the competition. "It's insane. It's brutal."
"The many hours of practice, you get a little delusional," said her partner Chmerkovskiy. "But I think the culminating moment, and worth, of the week is every Monday when you dance."
Alley said she is "not quite finished" with her weight-loss goal, but that the experience inspired an even bigger move in her life, a decision to return to the big screen.
"I am. It's time," Alley said on "GMA" of her plans to return to acting. "It [the competition] inspired me. I'd gotten complacent."
'Dancing With the Stars' Season 12: An Emotional Win
Ward's win was particularly moving and triumphant, coming just weeks after a dramatic fall during practice that saw his partner Johnson fall on her neck, with Ward then falling on top of her. The incident left Johnson in a neck brace, and left them both with doubt s that she would even be able to finish out the competition.
"There was a moment I didn't know if I'd be able to continue the competition," Johnson told "GMA." "Hines got me through that."
Hines said his experience on the football field gave him an extra perspective into the severity of the injury, and what could have been.
"I'm involved in that type of environment every Sunday," he said. "I know what could have happened. There were just tears of joy when we came back and were able to dance so well."
"After being with each other for so long, we grew a relationship. It's like family."
Ward's win now puts him alongside former Dallas Cowboy star Emmitt Smith as the second NFL player to win the coveted Mirror Ball trophy.
"This trophy is going to go beside my super bowl MVP trophy," Ward said. "I think the two go hand-in-hand."
Ward also said on "GMA" that he would find a place for his new-found dancing skills in the world of professional football.
"I'm going to use some of my dance moves," he said. "If I happen to score a touchdown, I'll do a little cha-cha as a tribute to Kym."
'Dancing With the Stars' Season 12 Finale Recap
On Tuesday night's finale, the three couples were given the choice to dance their favorite routine from the season. Alley chose the cha-cha, Ward did the samba and Kane selected the Viennese waltz. Each couple earned a perfect score of 30 for their performance.
But it was Ward and Johnson who stole the show with their energetic samba to Fantasy that scored the perfect 30.
"You are the MVP of Dancing With the Stars Season 12," judge Carrie Ann Inaba said after Ward and Johnson finished the dance. "You learned how to lead the dancing (and) led your partner out of injury. You dance with heart, and it shows."
But it was Hines' moves the previous night that put him in good standing to take the Mirror Ball trophy home. The first dance for the couple, chosen by Goodman, was the quick-step, performed to Irving Berlin's Puttin' on the Ritz.
The next number was a not-so-subtle reference to Ward's other life as a football star, and a rallying cry for devoted Steeler fans, as he and Johnson performed a halftime number, with Ward in costume as a black-and-gold-wearing band drum major.
"That wasn't a half show," said an impressed Inaba. "That was the whole damn Super Bowl!"
Despite his strong performances Monday night, Ward still went into Tuesday's finale tied in judges' scores with Kane with a total of 59 out of a possible 60 points. Alley had a total of 54 points.
Ward's good standing though, with the judges and the fans alike, made him a favorite early on.
Fellow contestants Karina Smirnoff and Ralph Macchio predicted before the dancing finale even began that the duo would walk away with the dancing trophy.
"I think he is definitely the favorite for the judges," Smirnoff told "GMA" on May 18, speaking of Ward. "I think it's going to be a fun final."
A Season Marked By Memories, And Drama
Ward, Alley and Kane made it to the top three from a pool of 11 celebrities who joined Season 12 of the hit show to vie for the championship.
This years' cast included actor Ralph Macchio, rapper/actor Romeo, former champion boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, TV personality Kendra Wilkinson and TV/radio talk show host Wendy Williams.
The season premiered Monday, March 21. Each week, the stars and their professional partners performed in one show, and the following night one couple was eliminated.
The season certainly had its share of dramatic moments that set the blogosphere abuzz.
Macchio started out a favorite of the judges and viewers, but his performance suffered following an injury to his leg. His partner, Karina Smirnoff, fell during one of their performances.
Alley set the Internet ablaze when she and her partner fell during one of their performances early on in the competition. A shoe fell off during a subsequent performance.
Despite those setbacks, judges praised Alley for improved technique and the actress has remained an audience favorite. Her markedly slimmer figure has impressed viewers and judges alike.
Tonioli was prompted to exclaim after of Alley's performances: "Your body is shrinking, your talent is huge!"
Her premiere night costume -- which she also wore light night to reprise her first number -- had to be taken in 38 inches, the former star of "Cheers" and "Fat Actress" told The Associated Press.
The finale show also included musical performances from the Black Eyed Peas, the Go-Go's and Sara Evans.