Steelers' Cameron Heyward nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward is the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the third time he was selected as the team’s representative.
The awards honors outstanding community service activities off the field and excellence on the field. It was established in 1970 and renamed in 1999 for the Hall of Fame running back.
“My mom and my dad laid the foundation of their legacy and I just want to build on that and create my own,” Heyward told the Tribune-Review. “Being involved in the community and understanding it’s not just what you do on the field but what you do off the field, because that’s what you will be remembered by.”
Heyward established the Heyward House Foundation in 2015 and also joined forces with Blessings in a Backpack, which provides backpacks filled with healthy food on the weekends to children on free or reduced lunch programs.
“Worrying about when they’ll get their next meal is the last thing any child should have to experience,” Heyward said. “I’m excited to help as many kids as we can, one backpack at a time.”
Heyward also was heavily involved with the “Pittsburgh is Stronger than Cancer” T-shirt campaign, which raises money for cancer research and families. As a senior in high school, Heyward lost his father, Craig, a Pitt great and NFL Pro Bowler to brain cancer.
The Heyward House Foundation benefits causes such as Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation, DKMS, KidsVoice, Smyrna Stars Basketball Club and afterschool fitness programs.
“Cam is a guy that embraces all this game and business has to offer, and the many challenges that it presents,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “He is the quintessential Steelers player and that honor is well deserved.”
The other 31 finalists will receive a donation of $50,000 in their name to expand Character Playbook, and an additional donation of up to $50,000 to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, United Way Worldwide, and Nationwide, the presenter of the Walter Payton Award.
Other nominees include past winners Drew Brees, Thomas Davis, Larry Fitzgerald, Eli Manning and J.J. Watt.
“Stats will come and go, but if you make a lasting impact on somebody’s life and provide opportunities for the less fortunate, you’ll be remembered,” Heyward said. “We are in a great position, very blessed position to be able to help out a lot of people and I always think I have a platform to do that and I want to be able to do that in this community.”
Matt Rosenberg is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Matt at 412-320-7937, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Matt_Rosenberg.