Grilling With The Boys: Cam Heyward Leads Steelers Both On An Off The Football Field

Anyone who knows anything about Pittsburgh Steelers football knows that DL Cam Heyward is an alpha dog in the locker room. As the longest-tenured veteran on the team, Heyward has taken up the elder statesmen role now that QB Ben Roethlisberger has retired, having long-been the model of consistency on the football field as a guy young player look to emulate and model their game after.

Former DC Keith Butler sang Heyward’s praises last season as he attempted to keep a defensive unit together while in a state of flux, having lost fellow starting DL Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu to injury for the season, which played a big role in the Steelers ranking dead last in the league in rush defense in 2021. Butler spoke of Heyward’s effort during the Chargers game and how even as the veteran of the group, he knows he isn’t above playing with effort even with the defense struggling during the season:

“He’s consistent, he’s a good leader for us, he runs to the ball. We try to dadgum coach this all the time about running to the ball. Turn and run. Don’t turn and look. Don’t be a spectator on the field when you’re out there on the field playing. He isn’t. He runs to the ball all the time.”

Along with leading by example, Heyward has taken up the role of being a teacher and mentor to not only the trying defensive linemen in the same room as him, but to many members of the team on both sides of the football. Heyward has made sure to give credit to his predecessors, crediting the Steelers of old for “taking him under their wing” and showing him the ropes, a role that he now carries for names like Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal, to name a couple.

Still, Heyward’s impact for the Steelers far exceeds what he does on the football field and in the locker room. Just recently, Heyward hosted his annual Steelers Cookout at his home, preparing a vast spread of food for players, coaches, and family members alike, as featured on his Instagram page. In the brief video, we see the likes of DB Tre Norwood, QBs Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett, WR Chase Claypool, TE Pat Freiermuth, DL Tyson Alualu, LB Marcus Allen, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cam’s brother Connor Heyward all in attendance, along with former Steeler Ryan Shazier, with many more almost certainly there, as well.

Besides the sheer amount of appetizing food that Heyward and his family had prepared (I call dibs on a rack of ribs, by the way) it’s a great sight to see Heyward fostering team camaraderie and friendship with one another off the football field in the middle of OTAs and mandatory minicamp. Heyward exemplifies what it means to be a “Pro’s pro”, showing the other members of the team that being a Pittsburgh Steeler is more than just being a part of a team. It’s a lifestyle.

Heyward saw the end of an era, playing with and learning from the likes of Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, James Harrison, and many more well-regarded names in Steelers lore. Hopefully Heyward continues the tradition of building a brotherhood together amongst his teammates as Pittsburgh looks to usher in a new era post-Ben where they can become a successful team that can compete to win the AFC North and push for title contention sooner rather than later.

It may seem like a small thing, but Cam Heyward holding an annual cookout for his teammates, coaches, and their family members speaks to his character and the leadership role his has taken on for the Pittsburgh Steelers: both on and off the football field.

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