Cameron Heyward Named Steelers Nominee For Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award

Highly regarded for his play on the field, Cameron Heyward’s impact on the community is just as great and important.

That’s why it’s no surprise that Heyward was named the Steelers nominee for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for 2022 Tuesday morning.

Considered one of the most prestigious awards in the league, the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, presented by Nationwide, recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Heyward was one of 32 nominees across the NFL Tuesday.

“Pittsburgh has done so much for my family and I,” Heyward said in a press release announcing his nominee for the award. “My parents instilled in us at a young age the importance of giving back, and I’m just so thankful that I’m in a position to make an impact and help people in this community.”

A Steelers team captain for eight straight seasons, Heyward kicked off his community service this season by hosting a Teacher Appreciation Dinner during training camp, donating $10,000 to help teachers fund their classroom projects. During his career, Heyward has funded over $50,000 worth of classroom projects for teachers.

Heyward also expanded his Craig’s Closet program to 10 high schools in the Pittsburgh Public School District. Named after his late father, the Craig’s Closet program aims to provide high school boys in the Pittsburgh area with dress clothes for interviews, internships and more, and now totals 15 locations.

The Steelers’ star defensive lineman also organized a “Cam’s Kindness Week” ahead of the Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets.

During “Cam’s Kindness Week” Heyward organized daily acts of kindness to give back to the Pittsburgh community ahead of the matchup with the Jets, which included a visit to Children’s Hospital where he hosted a “What’s in the Box” game show with children and hospital staff inside the Dream Big Studio. Then, Heyward visited the Little Libraries and announced the expansion of Craig’s Closet.

Later in the week, Heyward read a book to children from the McKeesport Presbyterian Church’s Head Start program and then painted the newest installation of his own Little Free Libraries, which is part of the Rufus and Judy Jordan Literacy Project, aimed at promoting children’s literacy and honor Heyward’s late grandparents, who were longtime educators in the Pittsburgh area.

“There are a lot of guys in the league who give back,” Mike Tomlin stated in a press release praising Heyward as the Steelers’ nominee. “I think where Cam stands out is his consistency. Year in and year out, he’s been a consistent leader and role model on the field and in the community for the young players on this team. It’s been special having a guy like that in our locker room for over a decade now.”

“Cam’s Kindness Week” also included a toy donation drive at Angel’s Place, which provides professional support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and a Community Clean up at Sheridan Ave. Orchard and Garden in Pittsburgh. The week concluded with a Girls Flag Football donation, which will include an invite for girls’ flag football teams from around the Pittsburgh area to the Steelers’ facility to take in a practice and receive a donation to support the growth of girls’ flag football programs in the area.

“What he does on the field, everybody knows. What he does off the field is more important. It doesn’t get noticed enough,” said Charlotte Heyward, his mother, and the executive director of The Heyward House, according to Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley. “He is a better man than he is a football player. He is a better husband, father, brother, son, friend than he is a football player. I can’t even say how proud I am of him as a human being.”

The Walter Payton Man of the Year award was first established in 1970 and was renamed after the late Hall of Fame running back in 1999.

The winner of the award each year receives a $250,000 donation to the winner’s charity of choice. All other 31 nominees receive up to $40,000 donated to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

The 2022 winner will be revealed during NFL Honors ahead of Super Bowl LVII.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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