Five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward takes a timeout for some playoff Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: What does it mean to be a Pittsburgh Steeler?
A… the tradition that was established before I even arrived… there’s also a winning culture. It’s a blue-collar town that loves football. You put on the jersey and there is a certain level of respect and honor. If you are playing on defense, you need to be ready to hit… To be great, to win, and to contribute to that culture.
Q: What drives you?
A. I believe that growing up in the shadow of my father [Craig “Ironhead” Heyward], I wanted to leave my own legacy and make sure you didn’t hear Craig Hayward’s name. I strive to do this. In everything I do, I strive to leave a lasting mark. As an individual and as a part of the NFL, one goal is to win a Super Bowl. I can’t say that I’ve ever done that. I also know that when you play for Pittsburgh that’s the only thing that matters: Was it possible to win the Super Bowl for your team. I see myself as someone who wants to be recognized for being one of the best in my position and a man that would be willing to do anything to win a championship.
Q: Do you believe your late father is proud of you today?
A. I hope he is proud of me. I tried to accept his suggestions, and being back in the same city he attended college, as well as the rest of my family, where my mother is from, I have embraced them. Not only am I trying to be a great football player but I also try to be an honest man. This means being a leader and a member of the community. I want to do my part. I know that I am in a fortunate position to give back and help others. My parents were big on giving back, and I have learned from them.
Q: What was it about your father that made you so proud of him?
A – It makes me proud that he has left a lasting impression on so many people. There are so many stories, good and bad. But the fact that he could talk with anyone from a child at Children’s Hospital to someone at the bar… everyone always talked about their Ironhead experiences. My dad was the most generous man I know. He cared for so many people and he put 110 percent into anything he did.
Q: Describe your on-field mentality.
A: I’m gonna give you 110 percent. I am one of those people who won’t settle for less than the best, but I must play with energy and set the tone.
Q: If you could pick the brain of any defensive linemen in NFL history, who would it be?
A: I’m able to speak with “Mean” Joe [Greene] from time to time. That’s my favorite defensive lineman. Reggie White would be my second choice.
Q: What is the best piece of advice Mean Joe ever gave you?
A – To be violent with your hands. It was funny because it reminded me of the time he first shook my hands. His hand almost swallowed mine. His hands are huge. There is a certain level of violence that you must play when playing defensive line. He was always a big believer in being the disruptor and being an influencer.
Q: Who is one quarterback in NFL history you wish you could have sacked?
A : I was surprised to not have the chance to sack Peyton [Manning]. Peyton Manning was my father’s rookie year. Peyton Manning was a friend of mine when I was younger and again when I played for the league. This was the only one I didn’t get to sack.
Q: Why does Pittsburgh love Ben Roethlisberger right now?
A: Pittsburgh loves Ben Roethlisberger because for the past 18 years, this guy has given two Super Bowls, and given his body a beating trying to make sure he played for Pittsburgh. He is a rare individual who can sustain a career that involves all the bumps, bruises, and the clutch two-minute drives at game’s end. He is one of those Steeler legends who just needs the ball in their hands.
Q: What makes T.J. Watt, T.J. Watt?
A – I think what stands out about T.J. is his unwavering efforts and his just effort. His ability to be a complete player during those crucial moments. We’ve had to call him on third downs many times. Or he gets a strip-sack when it is most convenient. It’s quite special to have a man like this who can rise to these occasions.
Q: What makes Mike Tomlin, Mike Tomlin?
A. His consistency in his message is in the fact he can challenge players individually as well as collectively. He is able to get the best out of his team.
Q: Describe Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes.
A: Man, lightning. He can make lightning strike on any play. He is one of those people who can make lightning happen on every play and can even throw the ball around the field. They never lose a game. It’s an 11-man job to stop a guy like that, and then still, 11 men can’t do the job.
Q: Describe former teammate Ryan Shazier.
A is a warrior.
Q: What was that moment like on the field when he suffered his spinal contusion four years ago?
A. It broke my heart. It was a moment I will never forget. To see my brother, who couldn’t get up and lay there, was a scene I’ll never forget. It was amazing to watch him walk and tell me that he’s going to walk again.
Q: Former Jets and now Buccaneers nose tackle Steve McLendon?
A – An underrated but great guy for the locker room.
Q: Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison?
A: Powerful. He never missed a workout. That’s what I’ll tell you. Amazing career. No one knew of James Harrison. And to be, the Steelers’ all time sack leader is one the most amazing things in the world. He has one of the most memorable [100-yard pick-six in Super Bowl XLIII win over the Cardinals] plays in Super Bowl history.
Q: What was Antonio Brown like as a teammate?
A : I don’t think that I had many problems with Antonio Brown. It was unfortunate that it ended in Pittsburgh. I would have loved for him to remain a Pitts