For Cam Heyward, there was no grand announcement. No big to-do, heck, nothing even official from the league. He found out about his late addition to this year’s Pro Bowl from the text messages of friends and family who saw the news on social media.
On the latest episode of the Not Just Football Podcast, with Heyward recording from the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, he explained how he heard about the news.
“I got text messages at like 12 o’clock after the Conference Championship. I looked at my phone the next day and everyone else is like, they’re saying ‘congrats.’ I’m like, ‘congrats on what? I’m at home, not doing anything.’ Find out I made the Pro Bowl.”
Heyward received the call-up to replace Kansas City’s Chris Jones, now preparing for this year’s Super Bowl after his team knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game. It’s Heyward’s sixth Pro Bowl appearance and while his selection was unceremonious, it’s a critical moment. A borderline future Hall of Fame candidate, Heyward needs as many boosts to his resume as possible to get him over the edge. Even if this Pro Bowl was *just* as an alternate, no voter is going to remember that a decade from now. They’ll just be looking at his resume and right or wrong, the more Pro Bowls, the better.
Heyward’s play was worthy of a Pro Bowl anyway. His 10.5 sacks were the second-most of his career, only trailing the 12 he had in 2017, and was his typical dominant player, especially once T.J. Watt returned and some of the attention was taken off Heyward. His 78.5 career sacks are second-most in team history and he has a chance to be the first man to break James Harrison’s record, though Watt is hot on his heels for what should be a fun competition early next year.
Making a Pro Bowl is old hat for Heyward, the NFL’s setup this year is new for him and the rest of the players attending. Scrapping an actual game, the Pro Bowl now features a series of mini-games and events. Today’s main event will be a 7v7 flag football game, one Heyward isn’t participating in but one teammate FS Minkah Fitzpatrick will be playing in. So far, Heyward participated in the balloon toss with teammate Quinnen Williams, who wasn’t a helpful partner and the duo were quickly eliminated.
“What do you know, I’m relying on another Jet to do my job. And once again, it didn’t work. So thank you again, New York Jets,” Heyward said with a laugh.
Heyward’s calling back to his plea for Joe Flacco and the Jets to beat the Miami Dolphins in Week 18 that would’ve put the Steelers in the playoffs. But Flacco struggled and the Jets lost in a 9-6 barnburner.
Heyward also joked that he wished he would’ve been included in the dodgeball game but was left off the list because he was such a late add to the Pro Bowl. He also hoped for the league to have “big man” flag football next year to show off his skills.
“Why not have that chance to highlight those guys and highlight their athletic ability?”
For those interested, the Pro Bowl’s flag football game kicks off at 3 PM/EST today. You can check out the latest edition of his podcast below.