He is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive leader. And so even though he’s been confined to the sidelines for the rest of the season, the result of a torn pectoral, he’s still lending a helping hand to the rest of the team.
Sitting down with Missi Matthews on Steelers’ Nation Radio, Keith Butler commented on the impact Heyward has still made with the unit.
“He still comes in and goes to all the meetings. He still wants to be part of the team and be on the sidelines and help coach. He means a lot to us.”
At that point, Matthews pointed out to Butler he was smirking while making those comments and followed up on why.
“He’s always wanting to help coach. He’s always had suggestions. He’s been around for awhile. He’s seen how this league works. He knows our defense very well. He’s just trying to [do his part].”
Of course, it’d be a million times better to feel Heyward’s impact on the field than on the sidelines. And Butler reiterated what a loss it’s been for the defense.
“Aw I mean, we miss him for sure. Not only his playing ability but his leadership. He’s always had a real good attitude, real good approach for the game.”
Heyward has always seemed like the player who can be whatever the team needs him to. He can be the jovial, light-hearted Heyward, singing happy birthday to DeAngelo Williams at training camp. He can be the one who dishes out tough love, serving as the defensive ambassador to the media after every game, and if things didn’t go well, will be extremely blunt.
It’s a rare combination of someone who has everything. The talent, the drive, the leadership, the character. When some players go on injured reserve, they sulk, and generally don’t feel like part of the team. There is certainly no obligation to be involved as usual. Not for Heyward. And that speaks volumes.
He’s the kind of guy Chuck Noll would’ve been proud of. I can’t think of a higher compliment than that.