View Full Version : Cam Heyward...the person

04-29-2011, 12:44 PM
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=lc-carpenter_cameron_heyward_ironhead_different_paths _042611

Ironhead’s son Cameron forges own path

By Les Carpenter, Yahoo! Sports Apr 26, 7:00 pm EDT

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The face comes from that commercial all those years gone now. This is the man the son remembers: the one with the contradictions, the one who could strike fear with a glare and then warm with the widest smile. He is grinning here and it’s impossible not to notice that enormous head, the one that used to knock tacklers to the ground, the one that has also gotten him that most wonderful of football nicknames.


Craig “Ironhead” Heyward is lathered up for the commercial. It’s about a year before doctors will find the first of the brain tumors that are eventually going to kill him. It’s been three years since he gave up the drinking and partying and carousing that nearly destroyed his NFL career. His life is together, perhaps as perfect as it can be. His wife remembers him being thrilled to be picked for this ad and the joy effuses from the shower in which the director has placed him. His huge torso is soaped with Zest Deodorant Body Wash, which he is promoting. His face darkens before quickly turning bright.

“But Iiiiiirrrrronnheead!, Aren’t body washes for ladies?”

Then he clutches a bath puff and utters the most famous words he will ever say:

“But Iiiiiirrrrrronnhead! What’s with this thingy?”

They say Cameron Heyward looks exactly like his father. And as he sits at a restaurant a few blocks from the Ohio State campus late last week, devouring a plate of pasta, there is indeed a lot of Ironhead in the wide face, the kind eyes and his easy, big smile. In a few days he will probably be chosen in the first round of the NFL draft just like his father was by the New Orleans Saints 23 years ago.

But there is also so much that is different. And it is not just that Cameron is a defensive end while Ironhead played running back. For unlike his father at the beginning of his career, Cameron doesn’t drink. He stays away from parties and barely steps into bars. He has been with his girlfriend, Allie, a volleyball player, since their freshman year at Ohio State. In a few weeks he will graduate with a degree in education. When football is done he thinks he might want to be a fourth- or fifth-grade teacher.

“My dad’s dad had trouble drinking, my dad did, I don’t want to put anyone through that,” he says quietly.

As Cameron began meeting with NFL teams this spring, interviewing to be selected as someone’s defensive end of the future, the football men begin telling him stories. Ironhead roared through the league those first few seasons, more than 300 pounds on just a 5-feet-11 frame thundering through tacklers, that huge head bent down like a battering ram. He was so loud, so fun. And then the tales spill out; the stories of all the late nights and the piles of food.

Stories that prompted one general manager who employed him to recently say: “He had all the vices you could think of.”

Stories that Ironhead himself acknowledged a long time ago in a Sports Illustrated article in which he revealed that a typical night would include a case of beer, bottles of tequila, women he described as “whores” and four or five big polish sausages smothered in onions. Often he wouldn’t make it home until about 5 a.m. before heading out to practice at 8, still drunk from the night before.

Cameron shakes his head. On the night he was born, Ironhead was off at a party. He raced to the hospital the moment when he finally understood what was happening, tripping off a police radar along the way. As the officer flipped on his siren and trailed in pursuit, Ironhead stepped on the gas, squealing up to the hospital where he jumped out and quickly explained to the police that he was Ironhead Heyward and his wife was having a baby.

Amazingly, they let him go.

When asked about what he learned from his father in those years, Cameron smiles.

“It let me know what not to do,” he says.

Heyward scoops up a loose ball vs. Ohio in ’10.
(AP Photo)

Jim Heacock, the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, has had plenty of great players in 37 years of coaching. He’s pretty sure he’s seen determination and fire before. He knows he’s seen good men too, ones who studied in their classes, who visited hospitals and signed autographs, who had a moment for everyone.

Then Cameron Heyward showed up to school. And from the start there was something unique about him on the field. He never stopped. Every play in the games, every drill in practice Cameron ran the same. He was relentless.

“I never had anyone quite like him,” Heacock says through the telephone.

On Thursdays during the season Ohio State players wear shorts and small shoulder pads called shells to practice. It is always a light day, one in which players essentially walk-through the plays they will run in the game two days later. Hitting is forbidden that day.

And yet several times Heacock has to pull Cameron from the workouts. He’s hitting too hard, someone’s going to get hurt.

“It’s not that he’s trying to injure someone, I just don’t think he knows another speed,” Heacock says. “He only can go full-speed.”

But there is something else too. Heacock sees it when Cameron leaves the field. He’s so kind, so considerate, it’s as if a switch has been pulled and the ferocious player on the field instantly softens, eyes happy, smile wide: just like the father from that long-ago commercial alternately growling and then breaking into his sing-song cadence.

They made Cameron a captain at Ohio State and to Heacock that seemed obvious. Cameron was always at class, always working, always studying. A leader.

Finally the coach stops for a moment.

“You know,” he says. “He’s almost perfect.”

Cameron has never been comfortable with being an athlete. He’s never had much use for the notoriety it brings, the false acclaim, the people always hanging on pretending to be your friend. As he walks into the restaurant a man calls “Good luck next week,” and Cameron is polite. He nods and says “thank you.” But he would rather have not been noticed at all.

He hates the stereotypes people place on football players, the way their eyes size them up, assuming they are at school for the purpose of going into a life of sports with no curiosity, no interest in discovering something new.

It’s partly why he is early for this interview, standing outside the restaurant in jeans and a shirt with a collar – no logos anywhere – not the regular college athlete’s attire lest he draw more attention to himself than his 6-feet-5, 294-pound frame would already attract.

“I’m not the typical athlete,” he says. “Sometimes people will see you and think ‘this guy is treating school like a complete joke, he doesn’t like to go to class or do his work.’ I mean I don’t like going to class, most students don’t. But I do go to class. I do my work. Sometimes athletes are frowned upon. I don’t want to be like that.

“Sports will fade away one day but your legacy will never fade away.”

His mother, Charlotte Heyward, taught him this. In fact, she taught him most of his life lessons.

“She always knew how to shut us down,” Cameron says. “She was in charge.”

Charlotte loves football but she never was one to be the doe-eyed football wife in awe of her famous husband. She had her own life, first running a boutique and then becoming a realtor. She was the ballast to her often-wild husband.

It was not easy for foes to take down Ironhead.
(Getty Images)

While Ironhead took Cameron through locker rooms to meet his famous teammates, Charlotte taught him about the league that would always see its players as disposable, to be discarded at the first sign of wear.

“It’s a business, don’t take anything personally,” she’d always say.

Mostly, she pushed on Cameron and her two other sons, Corey and Connor, the value of a name, of a legacy. Children might someday be looking up to him, she’d say. Be careful what you do.

“You’re always going to be an example to everyone,” Charlotte says one evening by phone from her home outside Atlanta. “Everything you do is going to be observed by someone. You have a famous last name, in our community people are going to be watching. But beyond that, God’s watching even if no one else is. You must always remember someone is paying attention.”

But there was also this lesson Cameron took from Ironhead, one the NFL men don’t talk about as they spill out all their stories from his drinking days: Ironhead cleaned himself up. He went to rehab in 1994 and got sober. He did it in the middle of his career which few players in his situation do and he shed the old, outrageous lifestyle.

“He made himself more of a family man,” says Cameron, adding that his father drove them to school, took them to their sporting events, even went to games and yelled at the referees when they made a bad call.

“I think he knew I looked up to him,” Cameron says. “He was always taking me places. I made it clear he was someone who inspired me. Everyone always says ‘who is your greatest hero. Michael Jordan?’ But I look up to my dad because I saw how much he struggled and how he tried to break back from it. He tried to right his wrongs. After football it forced him to look in the mirror and understand who is important in life.

“You know he stopped drinking when he played in the NFL [1994]. That was a huge, huge thing for us. We were so proud of him. Every year we would talk about how he never drank for another year.”

Then Ironhead got sick. The first time was in 1998 when he was with the Colts. The vision in his right eye began to blur, he went to the doctor who found a benign tumor growing at the base of his skull. After 13 hours of surgery, the tumor was removed but Ironhead’s eyesight was never right again. His career was over.

Six years later he had a stroke. Cameron was at the hospital with his brother Corey when the doctor came in and delivered the news: the tumor had returned. This time it was much larger than before, wrapping itself around Ironhead’s brain.

“You could hear a pin drop,” Cameron says.

The doctors never did get all of the tumor. They gave Ironhead three to five years to live and the running back who just years before dazzled as the face of Zest faded quickly.

Cameron was away at a basketball tournament when his father died on May 27, 2006.

Infections had set into Ironhead’s system. He grew weaker and weaker until his giant body finally gave out. He was 39.

For a long time Cameron carried the guilt of not being there when his father died. Even now, almost five years later, Heacock will watch Cameron on the field, hear something he says and know he is thinking of his father. It’s something Cameron doesn’t say much about, but he knows it’s there.

“To die at 39, it hurts a lot,” Cameron says. “That’s so young of an age to die.”

Then he smiles.

“My dad lived the life of a 100-year-old man,” he says.

Allie was initially perplexed when she’d tell people she was dating Cameron and they’d reply: “Oh Ironhead’s kid.”
(Courtesy Y! Sports)

There’s a part of Cameron that is a big kid just like his father. Charlotte sees it in the jokes he plays, the way he laughs, the way he smiles and teases.

“But he also knows when to get serious,” she says.

At a time when most top draft prospects drop out of school to concentrate on their looming professional careers, Cameron stayed enrolled at Ohio State. His agent sent him to Scottsdale, Ariz., to train and Cameron studied online, flying back to Columbus when he needed to take a test or meet with a teacher.

“He is literally the exception to the way athletes are,” Allie says. “He is so far from the other football players. He just has this really good head on his shoulders.”

Cameron Heyward looks down. He smiles but the words seem to embarrass him too. He’s always hated the stereotypes of athletes, as if a football player couldn’t do something more than just play sports.

And maybe this will be his legacy, that he will be the man who won’t have to merely be Ironhead Heyward’s kid, but a man all of his own.

Love this pick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

04-29-2011, 12:57 PM
Amen, brother! I got tears in my eyes reading that story!

04-29-2011, 01:17 PM
I'll get tears in my eyes--tears of joy--when he face-plants an opposing QB in the turf.

Wait a minute...you can't do that anymore, can you?

04-29-2011, 01:36 PM
I'll get tears in my eyes--tears of joy--when he face-plants an opposing QB in the turf.

Wait a minute...you can't do that anymore, can you?

Well, he still could/can do it. It will just cost him some Benjamins...

04-29-2011, 09:34 PM
Great story of our high character player. Also, good to read about Ironhead's sobriety.

06-04-2011, 09:29 PM
Cameron Heyward On Ohio State Allegations: “I stayed away from all that. It’s not a lack of leadership. Some guys don’t listen.”

June 3, 2011 by Steven Cuce


As Roger Goodell called Cameron Heyward’s name for the 31st overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers the four-year starter and first-team All-Big Ten selection out of Ohio State was thinking the life he had always dreamed of was finally coming to fruition. His playing days at Ohio State were coming to an end and the last thing he thought he would hear would be Jim Tressel resigning as head coach at Ohio State.

Heyward has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in the off-season and is excited to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers this fall if the lockout were to be lifted. He strongly believes Tressel should have stayed at Ohio State and learned to overcome adversity. Tressel was a big mentor for Heyward coming into college and this young man believes that the former Ohio State head coach shaped him into the man he has become today.

Cameron Heyward joined 790 the Zone in Atlanta with Hans and Jamal to discuss his feelings on Jim Tressel resigning from Ohio State, Jim Tressel being a scapegoat, Jim Tressel staying on at Ohio State rather than resigning, having any knowledge of what went on at the tattoo parlor called Fine Line Ink and his confidence in Luke Fickell.

What is it like with everything that is happening at Ohio State especially since Jim Tressel brought you into that university?

“It’s obviously been a little tough. For me personally I think [Jim] Tressel is a great man. I understand he made a mistake, but to see him go out like that it really hurt because he’s the guy who brought me in. He’s taught me a lot and I was fortunate enough to be under him and I learned a lot. I am the man I am today because of him.”

Is it accurate to say that Jim Tressel is being made a scapegoat right now? What has he meant to the university mentoring young men over the last ten years in your opinion?

“For me personally I know a lot of other guys feel this way that he was a man of his word to us. He always looked out for his team. I understand he made a bad mistake and he was being punished for it with the 5 game suspension. I think the players have to be held accountable for themselves and it’s really tough to see because he meant so much to Ohio State and the community.”

Would you have liked to see Jim Tressel stay on at Ohio State and take the five game suspension? Were you upset that he did resign?

“Yeah because my thing is you learn from your adversity. I know he made a bad mistake, but I was very optimistic about him learning from his mistakes and coming back even stronger, paying for his dues, and overall just understanding what he did wrong and just helping the team out.”

Is this something that you knew in the locker room that you could go to the tattoo parlor and exchange memorabilia for various things such as cash or tattoos? Was this common knowledge?

“No, for me personally I stayed away from all that. Jamal [host] can attest to it. I am a big homebody. I just like hanging out at home. For me I would preach that you have got to do the right thing and a lot of guys on our team do. It’s not a lack of leadership. Some guys don’t listen. It’s unfortunate, but now you will be paying the cost. They want to make the right decision and I’ve talked to players who have been in this situation and they were remorseful and let’s hope they can just bounce back from this. They understand they made mistakes when they were younger and now they’re trying to just grow and you know Terrelle Pryor included. They are all trying to mature and put the right foot forward and continue to grow because no one is perfect in this world and just learning.”

Luke Fickell is taking over as interim head coach. How confident do you feel about that?

“I give Coach Fickell a lot of credit. He’s a great man and he’s going to put things the right way. He’s here to fight for his players and I’m looking forward to seeing him coach. He’s a players coach and a lot of people enjoy playing for him. It’s going to be fun. He’s going to keep everyone accountable. I think he’s going to do a great job. I hope he gets the job next year.”

http://sportsradiointerviews.com/2011/0 ... -all-that/ (http://sportsradiointerviews.com/2011/06/03/cameron-heyward-ncaa-ohio-state-allegations-i-stayed-away-from-all-that/)

06-07-2011, 12:41 PM
I have a friend that is an Ohio St finatic and he has always been high on this guy regardless of the drop of the boxscore stats in his Sr year.
I love the high character. Just hope he is not like a Gholston.

06-07-2011, 01:03 PM
I have a friend that is an Ohio St finatic and he has always been high on this guy regardless of the drop of the boxscore stats in his Sr year.
I love the high character. Just hope he is not like a Gholston.

Totally different types. Gholston was a physical marvel athletically who didn't have the repertoire of pass rush moves to succeed at the NFL level. The Steelers are not looking for Heyward to be a pash rush specialist (which is what the Jets hoped for in drafting Gholston). Heyward seems to have the perfect size, motor, demeanor, smarts, intangibles, etc. to succeed in the often thankless position of 3-4 DE in a LeBeau defense.

06-25-2011, 01:25 AM
Steelers No. 1 Draft Pick Cameron Heyward On Football, NFL Lockout

June 22, 2011


PITTSBURGH (Sportsradio 93-7 The FAN) — Steelers first-round draft pick Cameron Heyward joined Seibel, Starkey and Miller on Sportsradio 93-7 The FAN to talk about becoming a Steeler.

Heyward talked about his off-season workouts this summer with the current lockout in place, saying he has been conditioning and staying in shape. He talked of veterans such as Chris Hoke, Casey Hampton, and Brett Keisel who have already made a name for themselves whereas he is the young guy who needs to prove himself.

When asked about his anticipation of becoming a Steeler, Heyward said he is thrilled to join such an elite squad and cannot wait to meet the guys. Heyward’s family is from the Pittsburgh area and Cameron talked about getting Steelers gear ever since he was little.

He touched on the story of being by his father’s side during his time of bone cancer saying part of the reason he chose OSU over PITT was the fact PITT was his Dad’s school and he did not want to overshadow his legacy.

Heyward talked about the mess in Columbus saying people want to put it behind them and move forward. He said Jim Tressel is someone who only wants the best for his players, but acknowledged the fact he made mistakes. Terrelle Pryor was also brought up in the Ohio State University conversation saying Pryor feels bad for letting his team down and wishes him the best.

Cameron Heyward ended the conversation saying his expectations for the upcoming football season is to do all the Steelers ask of him and grasp the playbook.

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/06/ ... l-lockout/ (http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/06/22/steelers-no-1-draft-pick-cameron-heyward-on-football-nfl-lockout/)

06-25-2011, 05:32 PM
RuthlessBurgher hit it right on the head...

Gholston played the "Leo" position in the Buckeyes defense...it's a hybrid DE/OLB position first played by Will Smith and then expanded upon by Bobby Carpenter, Mike Kudla, Gholston and Thaddeus Gibson...

When the "Leo" stands up in the Buckeye defense, the other three D-Linemen often line up in a 3-4 look: NT and 5-Tech DEs...This was what Doug Worthington did and what Heyward did as well in the Buckeye D...

The "Leo" position does a lot of the same things as a 3-4 OLB, which is why you saw the Steelers draft Gibson (and then the 49ers pick him up), Gholston drafted by the Jets (Mangini's 3-4 at the time) and Bobby Carpenter drafted by the Cowboys (Wade Phillips 3-4 at the time)...

The Defensive Linemen for the Buckeyes do a lot of the things that the 2-gap 3-4 Linemen in the league do...John Simon played for Cleveland in Romeo Crennel's 3-4...Doug Worthington and Cam Heyward for the Steelers...

Incidentally, it seems that the Buckeyes D-Linemen can also be good candidates for the Tampa-2 line...Quinn Pitcock was drafted by the Colts...Doug Worthington is currently with the Buccaneers...

Really, many of the D-Line prospects that the members of this board have thought to be good fits for the Steelers 3-4 have ended up going to Tampa-2 teams...and the Steelers looked at Booger McFarland a few years ago...

I guess there doesn't always have to be a huge difference in 3-4 and 4-3 linemen...

Sorry, I digressed...