PITTSBURGH — The Steelers might not win many games in 2022, but it won't be because of a lack of confidence.
This was Cam Heyward on the Mina Kimes podcast last month when asked how he feels about being on the second tier of NFL defensive linemen behind Aaron Donald:
"It [ticks] me off, hands down. I think I'm one, if not the most complete player at my position. I know Aaron is a really talented guy, but don't just shy away and say, 'Oh, it's Aaron Donald and everybody else.' [Expletive], it's Cam and Aaron and everybody else."
This was Ahkello Witherspoon on the Getcha Popcorn podcast with Hall of Famer Terrell Owens this month when asked to name the top five cornerbacks in the NFL:
"We'll go myself, [Jalen] Ramsey; I like [Marshon] Lattimore; I like J.C. Jackson; I like Xavien Howard."
And this was Chase Claypool on the I Am Athlete podcast Monday when asked by former NFL players Brandon Marshall, Adam Jones and LeSean McCoy where he puts himself among NFL receivers:
"I know for a fact I'm not like the rest of the guys in the NFL. I know I'm a top-five receiver. I know I'm a top-three receiver."
I loved all three responses in an odd sort of way. There is nothing wrong with an athlete believing in himself. No one gets to be a pro in any sport without that confidence.
Clearly, Heyward is a great player, a first-team All-Pro in 2017, 2019 and last season and a second-teamer in 2020. He's not Donald — arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history — but he has taken big steps toward the Hall of Fame. As a matter of fact, NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth called him "a no-question Hall of Famer" last season.
"We're all motivated in different ways," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Cam is one of those guys who is always looking for reasons to rise up in the face of something. That's the competitor that the man is."