Cameron Heyward has already established himself as one of the best defensive tackles in the game today. But that’s not enough for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive captain. If he’s not being spoken of as the best, period, without qualification, then that means there’s still work to do.
Even when that second-best status in the form of a video game. Heyward was rated as the defensive lineman next in line behind Aaron Donald in the latest Madden game, with Donald scoring at a 99 rating, and Heyward six points behind at 93.
“We’ve come a long way, because they’ve been disrespecting me a very long time”, he admitted, while appearing on the I Am Athlete podcast recently. “I had people reaching out and saying ‘Congrats’ and all that, and I was like, ‘Yeah, we’ve come a long way, but the job’s not done’. They still need to be held accountable. Because the number’s not right”.
A lot of you are probably saying to yourselves right now, so what? Why does he care? It doesn’t make a difference, it’s just a stupid video game. Well, I don’t really consider myself much of a gamer, and I couldn’t even tell you when’s the last time I’ve played a sports game specifically, so I’m not necessarily on the opposite side of that argument.
But I’m also not an elite athlete, and I hope you were sitting down when you read that. I think I’m a pretty decent blogger, but I don’t need external motivation to try to drive me on to be the absolute best blogger in the history of blogging. Then again, there are no blogging championships, no blogging Hall of Fame. And thankfully, no video games.
“I see the rankings, I see the Madden ratings and stuff, and people say it shouldn’t bother you”, Heyward said, before pausing and taking on a more emphatic tone. “I’m a competitor, and every little thing that goes one where I’m not ranked number one, I look at it as fuel. I screenshot most of it and I keep it on my phone so I can look back at it and remember that these people chose somebody else besides me. I work my tail off to be number one, not number two”.
This is certainly not the first time we’ve heard an elite athlete say something like this. In fact, it’s a pretty typical story. No matter how incontrovertibly great somebody like Michael Jordan or Tom Brady is, they find ways to convince themselves that they still need to work harder, and they do it by finding anybody who says they’re not the best.
As Heyward said, he trains and he plays in order to be the best. His goal is to be the best. Being ‘the best after Aaron Donald’ is not what anybody writes on their bulletin board. And so until he is seen in the same light as Donald or in an even brighter light, as he said, the job’s not done.