The Pittsburgh Steelers have had some draft picks in their history that just seemed fated to be. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced that feeling more, however, than when Cameron Heyward, the defensive lineman out of Ohio State, became available to them with the 31st-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The sone of the late Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, the Pitt legend, Heyward has been a seamless leader for the Steelers, as well as a stellar performer. He has been about as ideal an individual that you would want to be in your organization as you can get. I’m sure about 31 other teams would love to have a shot at him.
Likely, Pittsburgh won’t give them that chance. Heyward is technically entering the final year of his current contract, but it would be nothing short of surprising if they fail to work out a long-term extension with him before the regular season begins, especially since they likely would actually be able to lower his salary cap hit.
It’s important to state that not only is he a great player, he is also a great person, not just for the Steelers, but for the community at large, and that is why he was recently honored with this year’s Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year Award, which he will receive next month.
Head coach Mike Tomlin spoke highly of him after that news broke. As Ray Fittipaldo recently quoted him as saying for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Cam is just a blueprint for what players should aspire to be. He does everything right”.
“There’s routine in how he moves, and it’s all about team, it’s all about Pittsburgh, so he’s a blueprint”, he went on. “He’s experienced a lot of personal success, but that’s just a byproduct of how he moves. This guy is all Steelers. This guy is all team, and it comes out in everything he does every day”.
Heyward is experiencing his greatest personal run as a professional right now. Over the course of the past three seasons, he has made the Pro Bowl each time, and earned first-team All-Pro recognition twice. He has put up at least 45 tackles with at least 10 for a loss with a minimum of eight sacks, a forced fumble, and three passes defensed in each of those years. Those are the lowest numbers he’s hit in each of those categories in that span.
But what he does in the community through numerous charities with which he works, and how he gives back as a leader within the locker room, is really why he is so respected within the community. If I’m not mistaken, he has been the Steelers’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in the past, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he wins it one day.