While T.J. Watt’s teammates would love to see him win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, to be voted on in a couple of weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers are also really excited about the awards prospects of another one of their own. Maurkice Pouncey is the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award this year, and they really want to see him get it.
Especially, perhaps, Mike Tomlin, his head coach, who drafted him in the first round back in 2010. He is the longest-tenured Steeler from the Tomlin era now following Antonio Brown’s mustachioed mayhem from a year ago, outside of Ramon Foster, who was undrafted.
Pouncey sat down with Missi Matthews to talk about the award nomination and his charitable work, asking him what motivates him to give back. “I think it’s just the way I was raised. As far as giving back, I think it’s just something that you do internally. You shouldn’t get all the praise for it. You know how I am about this; Coach Tomlin is making me do this interview”.
Tomlin is often his players’ greatest ambassadors, as they don’t want to publicize themselves for what they do, and obviously he is closer to Pouncey than the majority of his players, given how long they have been together, so that’s not surprising to hear. He was an All-Pro as a rookie, and they immediately started taking his advice, drafting his college teammate, Marcus Gilbert, in the second round a year later.
The eight-time Pro Bowler talked about his motivations and how he feels about publicity for charitable work. “I just feel like it’s something that you shouldn’t get pats on the back or handclaps for”, he said. “It’s just something that you do out of the kindness of your heart. Internally, it just makes me feel good, and that’s why I do it all the time”.
“We come from poverty. So we know what it’s like to not have things and enjoy life, no matter if you have a lot of money, or if you have no money at all”, he added. “That’s how I was raised. We were poor, and I never knew that we didn’t have a lot of money. I just thought that’s how the whole world lived. But I think that was instilled in us as kids from our parents and grandparents and everyone else in our inner circle”.
Jerome Bettis was the last Steeler to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, back in 2001. Three others had previously won it: Lynn Swann in 1981; Joe Greene in 1979; and Franco Harris in 1976.