Former Ohio State Defensive Lineman Cameron Heyward Named NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year

By Dan Hope on February 8, 2024 at 10:53 pm
Cameron Heyward
Philip G. Pavely – USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Heyward is this year’s winner of one of the NFL’s most prestigious awards.

The former Ohio State defensive lineman was named Thursday night as this year’s NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, recognizing the impact he has made off the field in addition to his excellence on the field.

A six-time nominee for the award, Heyward has given back to the Pittsburgh community throughout his 13 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His foundation, the Heyward House, has started initiatives to fight childhood hunger, to support families of children diagnosed with cancer, to encourage childhood literacy and to support students and teachers.

In 2023, Heyward launched an annual toy and coat drive with the Foster Love Project, providing gifts and outerwear to children in foster care. He also hosted a Teachers’ Appreciation Dinner during Steelers training camp which included a surprise donation of $10,000 to fund the teachers’ classroom projects.

Heyward also held his second annual Cam’s Kindness Week, which included a Kindness Week Kickoff Party at UPMC Children’s Hospital, meetings with students from several local high schools and a group art therapy project at The Caring Place, a haven for children struggling with the loss of a loved one.

Heyward has cited his late father, former NFL fullback Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, as his inspiration for giving back to the community.

Winning the NFL Man of the Year Award will enable Heyward to do even more for the community, as the award comes with a $250,000 donation to the recipient’s charity of choice.

Within the Steelers organization, Heyward is a revered leader who has been selected as a captain nine times. On the field, the likely future Pro Football Hall of Famer was limited by a groin injury that forced him to miss six games in 2023. But he continued to make as big of an impact as ever both in the Pittsburgh community and as a locker-room leader for the Steelers, who made the playoffs for the eighth time in his 13-year career.

Heyward becomes the second former Ohio State player to win the NFL Man of the Year Award, joining Cris Carter, who won the award in 1999.

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