Heyward humbled by third Payton honor

Matt Sunday / DKPS

Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward is a 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. The nomination marks Heyward's third time as the Steelers' representative for the award.

Given to a player exhibiting exceptional character, philanthropy, and community involvement off the field, the award was introduced in 1970, when Johnny Unitas was named its first winner. Last year, J.J. Watt took home the award for his work in relief of Hurricane Harvey, where his Justin J. Watt Foundation raised $41.6 million.

Looking to join their company for 2018 is Heyward, who established the Heyward House in 2015, a foundation dedicated to improving the lives of local youth. In addition, Heyward works with Blessings in a Backpack, the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, and Craig's Closet — among others — to provide help and assistance to community members in need.

While his list of philanthropic efforts is extensive and impressive, Heyward is the last man to admit as much. Speaking Thursday at the Rooney Complex, Heyward was asked about his latest Payton nomination, and he immediately put the spotlight on his teammates:

“I know guys in this locker room are very deserving, as well,” Heyward said. “Maurkice Pouncey has done a tremendous amount of work in the community — Joe Haden, multiple guys not only give their time but care about it. To be nominated, I take a lot of responsibility with that."

For Heyward, the nomination isn't about the shine or the attention — it's about improving the community and helping those who truly need it.

“I just want to give back to my community," Heyward said. "I want to continue to play good on the field and continue to help off the field.”

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