Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, who was praised for his dealings with local and national media during the previous season, has been selected as the 2022 Good Guy Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Heyward, the 18th Good Guy Award winner, is the second member of the Steelers franchise to win the award, joining Jerome Bettis, who won the inaugural Good Guy Award in 2005.
Other nominees for the Good Guy Award were Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin, Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons and Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah.
The Good Guy Award is given to an NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs. The award has been presented annually by the PFWA since 2005.
Heyward did not miss a media availability during the 2021 season, and those on the beat locally in Pittsburgh said he never avoided a tough question as he offered open and honest discussions about everything from on-the-field issues to the impact of the retirement of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He was cited for consistently going “above and beyond’’ to build an honest rapport with those who cover the team.
“We give out the Chief Award — named after team patriarch Art Rooney — for cooperation with the media every year, and it got to the point where we had to alter the rules to not allow back-to-back winners. If not, Cam Heyward would’ve won every award since. Instead, he’s won a record three in a span of eight seasons,” said PFWA Pittsburgh Chapter president Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “I can go on forever about Heyward’s generosity with the media. During the week while most stars would pick a day to talk, Heyward would hold court any day of the week in front of his locker, and a line would form for impromptu 1 on 1s. He never turned anybody away. When the locker rooms would open after games, the entire media group would go right for Heyward, win or lose. When COVID hit, he never missed a week talking to the media, and it never seemed like a chore for him. He enjoyed being the voice of the team, and he used it to get his message across through the media, especially in tough times, and there have been a few of those over his tenure with the Steelers. He sets the tone in the locker room, and his teammates tend to follow his lead.”
Heyward, a seven-time team captain (2015-21) in Pittsburgh, was selected No. 31 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Steelers. He is a two-time PFWA All-NFL and All-AFC selection (2019, 2021) and a four-time Pro Bowler. He is a three-time recipient (2014. 2019, 2021) of the PFWA Pittsburgh Chapter’s “The Chief Award”, which was established in honor of the Steelers’ founder, Arthur J. Rooney Sr., presented annually to the Steeler that best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media.
During the 2021 season, Heyward started all 17 games with 89 total tackles (53 solo), 10 sacks, one interception, nine passes defensed and one forced fumble with a fumble recovery.
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 59th season in 2022, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Lindsay Jones of The Athletic is the PFWA president for the 2021-22 seasons and the organization’s 30th president. Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated is the PFWA’s first vice-president, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News is the second vice-president and Mike Sando of The Athletic is the secretary-treasurer. At-large board members include Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, USA Today’s Mike Jones, ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold and ProFootballTalk.com’s Charean Williams. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
GOOD GUY AWARD WINNERS (To a NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job) Year indicates when award was presented for previous season: 2005 – Jerome Bettis (Pittsburgh Steelers); 2006 – Tiki Barber (New York Giants); 2007 – LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers); 2008 – Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers); 2009 – Kurt Warner (Arizona Cardinals); 2010 – Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints); 2011 – Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers); 2012 – Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos); 2013 – Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta Falcons); 2014 – Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks); 2015 – Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks); 2016 – Thomas Davis (Carolina Panthers); 2017 – Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals); 2018 – Chris Long (Philadelphia Eagles); 2019 – Chris Long (Philadelphia Eagles); 2020 – Eli Manning (New York Giants); 2021 – Philip Rivers (Indianapolis Colts); 2022 – Cameron Heyward (Pittsburgh Steelers)