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Najee Harris Discusses Leadership And Relationship With Cameron Heyward

On the Pivot Podcast today, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris talked about his relationship with Cam Heyward and Mike Tomlin and how the two are mentoring him to become a leader

“Ever since last year, maybe the eighth, ninth game, he would come to me and be like, ‘you know, we gonna have a talk later on, you could be a leader on this team,’ Harris said about Tomlin.

“He brought Cam there, so he was like, ‘Cam, take him under your wing,’ and stuff like that. So now Cam, I call him Big Unc. He tell me ‘Man, Najee sometimes it’s good to go over to the fans, probably sign some stuff,’ Harris said. “He’s kind of teaching me the lines of stuff. But I can say, it’s not easy. Just even doing the small stuff, like maybe I know what’s getting looked at in a meeting, like this type of block, this type of stuff’s going on, but I gotta bring a pencil and a pen, just give it an illusion that I’m writing something down, just cause people might be looking at me saying ‘oh, Najee’s got it out.’ 

It’s not easy to step into a leadership role, especially when a guy is just entering his second year as Harris is. Heyward didn’t step into the role that early in his career, but he’s a guy now who without a doubt is a leader on the team and knows what it takes to be a leader. He and Harris having a close relationship can only be a good thing for the Steelers and for Harris as he tries to become a leader and a guy that his teammates turn to. 

It’s interesting to hear Harris admit some of the struggles of entering a leadership role. The NFL can be a wildly different experience than college, and even with a year under his belt, Harris still probably isn’t fully adjusted to everything that you need as a leader in the NFL. Tomlin and Heyward clearly see that he has the capacity to be one, and from everything I’ve seen and heard, I believe he does too, and he’ll be a great leader. Still, adapting to that role obviously isn’t easy, especially when there are a lot of guys on the team with more seniority than he does. 

With that being said, I don’t know if there’s a better guy in the NFL to mentor someone on how to be a leader than Cam Heyward. Everything he does on and off the field speaks to a natural leader, and from the little things like telling Harris to sign autographs to bigger things, Heyward is the perfect person to show Harris the ropes. 

Pittsburgh needs someone to take over a leadership role on offense. Mitch Trubisky has gotten a lot of praise in his prior stops for his leadership, and I’m sure Harris can complement Trubisky’s leadership. It’s a young offense that’s experienced a lot of turnover this offseason, but if those two can step up to the plate and become leaders on and off the field, Pittsburgh will be in good shape.

While Harris might not be a clear-cut leader this year, give it a year or two and he could have that Heyward-esque leadership role for the offense. In a few years, it might be Harris telling guys to go sign autographs and interact with the fans a little more, or reminding other players of the importance of just bringing a pen and paper to meetings. His relationship with Heyward is crucial for developing those leadership skills, and it’s awesome to hear that the two of them are close and working on turning Harris into a leader.

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