Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward won the NFL’s most prestigious individual award on Thursday, claiming the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for on-field excellence and off-the-field dedication for philanthropy and service.
Being selected for that individual honor comes with a $250,000 award for charitable contributions to the player’s causes, and a trophy that Heyward accepted on stage in Las Vegas on Thursday.
But there’s one more part of the honor that is unique the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Since 2017, the winners of the award have been permitted to wear a patch that is a depiction of the trophy on their uniforms for the rest of their careers.
The three active former winners in 2023 — Calais Campbell of the Atlanta Falcons, Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos and Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys — all wore the patch on their jerseys.
But the Steelers are a bit particular when it comes to slapping patches on their uniforms. The Steelers were one of six teams in 2023 that did not utilize the NFL captaincy patches, and one of just four teams with permanent captains that chose not to. The Steelers, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans are the only such teams have never worn them.
So will the Steelers be sewing on a miniature Walter Payton statue to Heyward’s No. 97 jerseys for 2024? He’s not sure, but he thinks so.
“I was kidding around with our EQ guys, and we’ve really got to have a talk about it, but they were like, if you win this, you’re getting a damn patch on your jersey,” Heyward said. “We don’t do the C’s. But we’ll see what happens. Only next year will tell.”
The Steelers have worn other patches on their jerseys. They wore memorial patches after the deaths of owners Art Rooney Sr. and Dan M. Rooney, and also have worn patches for significant team anniversaries, most recently for their 80th season in 2012 (They did not wear one for their 90th season in 2022). They also wore a league-mandated patch for the NFL’s 75th anniversary in 1994.