The Pittsburgh Steelers may be at the end of a Super Bowl window, but here’s why defensive lineman, Cameron Heyward, is considering sitting out in 2020.
The year 2020 has been anything but normal. After months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and most states getting back to the “green zone” things still don’t seem like they used to. Many fans and players are worried about the possibility of another spike in cases this fall. Pittsburgh Steelers star defensive lineman, Cameron Heyward, is one of them.
During an appearance on NFL Network on Tuesday, Heyward discussed his thought process when it comes to the upcoming 2020 season. Here’s some of what he had to say:
"“Well, you know, as of right now, I haven’t thought that way. Currently I’ve been working out, just trying to get ready, but I have to have these talks with my family and make sure I take every precaution if I’m gonna go back. We don’t have a vaccine. We’re still dealing with a lot of testing and things have to fall in place. I have to do what’s right for family. I have to make sure I don’t jeopardize them as well as myself… Everyone I’ve heard from is just trying to find out more information because they want to go back to football. We’re gonna have to be very smart about this. This isn’t a decision that’s made in one or two days due to not having a vaccine and still dealing with this. We got to make sure that every player and every family feels safe doing this.”"
Heyward, like many other players, has a legitimate cause for concern with the situation for the upcoming NFL season. If the NFL schedule continues as normal, it remains to be seen whether players will be forced to show up or be penalized for staying home.
Obviously, if Heyward does indeed sit out the 2020 season, it would have a devastating impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though Mike Tomlin’s squad was just an 8-8 football team last year, they were held back by poor quarterback play and the inability to put points on the board on offense.
This year, Ben Roethlisberger is right on track to make a full recovery from the season-ending elbow injury he suffered all the way back in Week 2 of 2019. But his addition isn’t the only reason to believe the Steelers will be a better team in 2020.
A finally healthy JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner will be joining him, and this time, Pittsburgh’s skill player depth runs deep. Adding weapons like Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron should help out Ben a lot and with the emergence of players like Diontae Johnson and James Washington, the offense should improve by leaps and bounds.
Still, it will all be for not if the Steeles are missing some of their star players next year, and as a two-time first-team All-Pro, Cameron Heyward’s impact on the defense has proven to be monumental.
I don’t blame the players at all for any decision they would potentially choose to make amidst the 2020 pandemic, as they are simply doing what they think is right for their families. But if Heyward (or other prevalent Steeler players, for that matter) elect not to play in 2020, it would have a devastating impact on Pittsburgh in a rapidly closing Super Bowl window.