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Cam Heyward the Steelers representative for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year presented by Nationwide.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Heyward is the Pittsburgh Steelers star defensive end and a defensive team captain who has been with the team since he was picked up in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Ohio State. In addition to being an indispensable member of the Steelers defense, he is a valuable member of the Pittsburgh community.

Fans know of Heyward's tireless commitment to raising awareness for cancer in honor of his dad who died of the disease. As the Steelers' United Way representative, he is tasked with inspiring citizens to contribute time and money to charities. Heyward also founded the Heyward House, an organization that helps kids in need.

The Walter Payton Man of the Year honors the Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back who passed away in 1999 by recognizing players who give back to their communities. Each team nominates a player, three finalists are announced in January 2016 chosen by a panel made up of judges including Commissioner Rodger Goodell, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, and LaDanian Tomlinson.

In the AFC North, the Ravens nominated wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.; the Cleveland Browns nominated tight end Gary Barnidge; and, the Cincinnati Bengals nominated defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Other nominees around the league include Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

In 2013 Arthur Moats was nominated as Walter Payton Man of the Year when he was with the Buffalo Bills. Last year, William Gay was nominated for the honor, while Roethlisberger was the nominee in 2013 and Ryan Clark the nominee in 2012.

Last year's winner was Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis won the award for his work with the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation that provides programs that serve 2,000 underprivileged children and their families. Jerome Bettis in 2001 was the last Pittsburgh Steeler to win the award. Lynn Swann won the award in 1981 and Franco Harris won it in 1976.