Spokesman for Hines Ward: Ex-Steeler was unaware of extortion try, calls it 'desperate' act

A spokesman for Hines Ward says an alleged extortion attempt against the retired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is "the act of a desperate individual trying to get money from a celebrity."

Ward spokesman Andrew Ree says Ward is traveling and unavailable for comment. But he says Ward didn't even know about any extortion attempt until Thursday and "played no part in anything."

A man claiming his girlfriend once had a "physical relationship" with Ward is in custody on charges he tried to extort $15,000 by threatening to release evidence Ward had paid for sex.

Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Van Auker, of Pittsburgh, was awaiting arraignment Friday on two felony counts of attempted extortion.