Share & Comment:

Cam Heyward missed Week 1 of OTAs, and everyone survived

I wish Cam were here, but he has to do what’s best for him and his family. I love him like a brother, and I really wish he was here, but, hey, this is a business, and he has to do what’s best for him and his family. Nobody works harder than Cam, and I wish he were here working hard with us, even though we’re not really working all that hard (we’re practicing in shorts), but he has to do what’s best for him and his family.

Thank you for indulging me. I do impressions (you should hear my Ross Perot), and I figured I’d start this article by impersonating coaches and teammates every time an NFL player skips OTAs…over a contract dispute.

I added “Cam” to this impression because Cam Heyward, the Steelers’ veteran defensive lineman, the reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year, decided to activate the voluntary part of the NFL’s yearly OTA sessions by not showing up for the first week of them…over a contract dispute.

As you may know, I never really give a damn when a Steelers player skips OTAs (I’ve reserved this space for you to say, “And, yet, you decided to write an article about it”).

Good one.

But a lot of people do, and that’s why I often write an article about such things.

Heyward, who is in the final year of a lucrative deal he signed in 2020, is set to make $16 million in 2024. His cap hit is $22.4 million. Not only has Heyward openly scoffed at the idea of taking a paycut (he just turned 35 and is coming off a subpar 2023 campaign in which he suffered a major groin injury, missed six game and had surgery on it after the season), but he wants an extension.

For how much? Nobody really knows, but we do know that Heyward seemed to be defying Father Time in the seasons before 2023; Heyward recorded 53.5 of his 80.5 career sacks between 2017-2022, and he may actually want more superstar money in his next deal.

Are the Steelers wrong for not wanting to give Heyward that kind of money? No. Is Heyward wrong for wanting that kind of money (if he does)? No. Are fans–the modern ones who worry about money and salary-cap implications–wrong for hoping that Pittsburgh doesn’t give Heyward more superstar money? No.

Are fans who are upset over Heyward not being at OTAs wrong? Yes. What? That’s right, I said you’re wrong.

First of all, what grownup concerns her or himself with the voluntary work activities of someone they don’t even know? Second of all…I guess there is no second of all, because the key word in any discussion about OTAs is “voluntary.”

I volunteered to work on Sunday because my company was short employees due to the holiday. But guess what? I got paid for my services.

NFL players don’t get paid for OTAs. They may get catered lunches and stuff like that, but they don’t get paid any of their salary. They don’t get a stipend for being there. It’s a voluntary work thingy.

I say this every May: There’s one way to make (insert player here) show up for voluntary OTAs: Make them mandatory.

Problem solved.

Back in my day, the NFL didn’t even have OTAs, yet, everyone seemed to get along fine. The players still seemed prepared for the season. The best teams made the playoffs, while the very best one won the Super Bowl (although, that wasn’t always the case due to parity and stuff).

Unfortunately, the modern NFL has found a way to get its fans to care about every aspect of its offseason–including the announcement of which towns will get to host future drafts–and voluntary OTAs are no exception.

We fans take quotes from the players and savor them for days. We post videos on social media of these guys doing quick-twitch muscle activites while wearing shorts and being hit by pillows and golf balls.

And we rage about players not showing up for these OTAs.

Thankfully, the rage for Heyward missing (at least) Week 1 of OTAs hasn’t been that out there. It’s Cam, after all. It would be like hating Mister Rogers for walking out of a taping of his show over a contract dispute. It would be like spreading ugly rumors about Tom Hanks while he was in the middle of starring in a movie about Mister Rogers’ life (you know who you are).

Besides all of that, Heyward doesn’t need to be there. He’s Cam Heyward. This isn’t his first rodeo. His performance in 2024 won’t be affected one bit by his OTA activities.

Do I wish he was there? Not really. All I know is the NFL is a business, and Cam has to do what’s best for him and his family. I’d say I love him like a brother, but I don’t even know him.

Let me sum everything up by doing my impression of the title of this article:

Cam Heyward missed Week 1 of OTAs, and everyone survived.


Sign up below for the latest news, stories and podcasts from our affiliates

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.