Fresh off of a 10-sack season in which he once again was consistently one of the best interior defensive linemen in football once again, Pittsburgh Steelers’ star defensive captain Cameron Heyward was named an Associated Press First Team All-Pro for the third time in his career, marking the fourth overall All-Pro honor he’s received in his illustrious career.
Heyward, who isn’t much for the fanfare or the public praise overall, didn’t have a clue about the third All-Pro honor until he appeared on the Rich Eisen Show Friday afternoon, speaking with the longtime NFL Network personality ahead of the Steelers’ Wild Card Round matchup with the No. 2 seed Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night at 8:15 p.m.
Eisen broke the news to Heyward, who stated he had not heard anything regarding the All-Pro honors. Despite being caught off guard by Eisen’s announcement to him live on air, Heyward was able to gather himself and speak glowingly about the honor.
“Man, it’s a big honor,” Heyward said to Eisen Friday, according to audio via the Rich Eisen Shows’ official YouTube page. “I put a lot of work in this offseason…to be viewed as one of the top d-linemen in our league. I’m just very lucky. I know it’s not a guarantee and I got to put in the work, but…I’m very honored to be known as an all pro this year.”
Heyward certainly deserved it. His 10-sack season helped the Steelers lead the league in that category for the fifth straight season, and the star defensive lineman also batted down nine passes on the season, picking off one in the process, adding another element to the Steelers’ defense.
Joining Heyward on the First Team All-Pro list is teammate and star outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who — like Heyward — played a monumental role in the Steelers’ defense leading the league in sacks. Watt tied the NFL’s single-season sacks record with 22.5, and should be a lock for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Having worked so closely with him the last four seasons, Heyward has a good perspective on the type of teammate and leader Watt is, and said there was no player more deserving for the All-Pro honor than Watt during his Friday interview with Eisen.
“Man…there’s not a more deserving guy being All Pro, hopefully Defensive Player of the Year, leading the lead in sacks again,” Heyward said. “As a group we’re leading the league, and I’m sure he’ll tell you we’ve got a bunch of guys that make this thing possible, but that dude is part of the locomotive, and he keeps us all together.”
Though the Steelers have been mostly overlooked throughout the 2021 season — and rightfully so — it’s great to see the team’s two best players get recognized individually for the talents that they are, landing on the First Team All-Pro list once again.