Cam Heyward’s wait continues. He was not named the 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year. Instead, this year’s award went to Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott, announced during Thursday’s NFL Honors.
The award is given to the NFL player who represents “the best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact.” Each team nominates one player and for the past five years, Heyward has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ nominee.
For winning the award, Prescott will receive $250,000 that will go to a charity of his choosing. Heyward and the other 30 nominees will receive $40,000.
Heyward has made as big an impact in the community as he has on the field. In addition to his long-time foundation The Heyward House, he started Cam’s Kindness Week in 2022 which featured a visit to Children’s Hospital, creating mini pop-up libraries around the Pittsburgh area, and other events to give back to the city.
The Steelers made a strong push for Heyward to win the award. Mike Tomlin spoke about Heyward’s commitment to community after Heyward’s nomination in December.
“His work in the community, whether it’s Pittsburgh or Atlanta where he is from or Columbus where he went to school or any community that he cares about. This guy contributes in a positive way in the way that he has as a player. The totality of his resume in that area is indisputable like the totality of his resume as a player. It’s over a decade of service.”
And Team President Art Rooney II issued a statement in support of Heyward being this year’s winner, campaigning on his behalf.
“He deserves to win this award. Cam’s been involved in so many different programs through the years. This year in particular, he set up Cam’s Kindness Week. He called attention to a number of local charities and initiatives including one with Pittsburgh public schools where he installed Craig’s closet in each of the schools. Small libraries i various low-income communities.
“We’re just fortunate to have somebody like Cam on the field and off the field. Just proud of everything he’s done. Cam Heyward deserves to be Walter Payton Man of the Year.”
Despite losing the award, Heyward has proven what it means to be a Steeler on and off the field. He continues to make an impact on the field, coming off a 10.5 sack season, but his impact off the field will make its mark for years and decades to come, long after his playing days are over.
UPDATE (12:33 AM): Heyward has tweeted about losing out on the award, noting what he’s doing to help the community matters more than any hardware.