Mike Tomlin, Cam Heyward Share Emotional Exchange: ‘I Wasn’t Ready for That’

Getty Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and tackle Cam Heyward exit the field.

A player’s first touchdown is a big deal but rarely is it as meaningful as this one.

In Atlanta, where his father, running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward played football for three seasons, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie tight end Connor Heyward scored his first career touchdown on December 4.

Thirty-one years earlier, the eldest Heyward scored the first receiving touchdown of his career at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Steelers Depot observed how eerily similar Connor’s score was to his father’s.

Craig had the best season of his 11-year career with the Falcons in 1995, rushing for 1,083 yards on 236 carries and six touchdowns.

As Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and captain Cam Heyward exited the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after defeating the Falcons, the two talked of its significance.

“That’s cool your little brother scored here today,” Tomlin said to Heyward.

“Man, why you got to bring it up now,” Heyward said, grinning ear-to-ear.

“You went big brother on me there for a second.”

Heyward revealed in his postgame press conference that he was “a mess” following his younger brother’s touchdown.

“It’s because we went to go visit his grave this morning.”

“I know, I know. You went big bro on me.”

“I wasn’t ready for that,” said Heyward. “It never even crossed my mind; that was the crazy part.”

A very touching moment between Heyward, the Steelers’ veteran-most player, and Tomlin, a coach he so greatly admires.

Cameron Heyward Gets ‘Emotional’

Cameron Heyward hadn’t yet spoken to his little brother about scoring the touchdown, but he shared the story behind the emotions during his postgame press conference.

“This morning, me and him went to my dad’s grave, and we got to share a moment there,” Heyward shared while donning his father’s No. 34 jersey. “And so I was pretty emotional when he got the touchdown.

I don’t like to be Mr. Softy, but that [Connor’s touchdown catch] really hit me. Luckily there wasn’t a camera on me because I was a mess.”

The Heyward brothers, who are 10 years apart, attended Peachtree Ridge High School. While Cam was born in Pittsburgh, Connor was born in Duluth, GA.

Each impacted the win over the Falcons: Connor added six to the scoreboard, and Cam had the team’s only sack on a critical third down, leading to the Falcons settling for a field goal.

Per Elias Sports Bureau, “they are the first pair of brothers to do that for the same team in a single game since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.”


Connor Heyward’s Big Moment

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Connor Heyward in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft. The rookie had not been involved in the offense during the regular season until his touchdown from Kenny Pickett.

Pickett talked about the connection after the game. “It was special. Cam [Heyward] talked to the team before, and I talked to Connor when we were walking out to the tunnel,” Pickett said.

The quarterback made a promise that he not only kept but went beyond with the passing touchdown. “I said we were going to get the win for his pops today. Then for him to go out there and get his first touchdown in this building, it’s incredibly special. It’s not a coincidence. I think everything happens for a reason. I’m incredibly proud of him, and I’m really glad we got the win for both those guys.”

Connor didn’t allow the moment to get too big. “Being from Georgia, born and raised, it means that much more,” Heyward told Steelers media after the game. “If I didn’t score and we just won, I would’ve been just as happy. I’m glad it was a team win, and on to the next one.”

Heyward’s performance earned him the highest tight end grade in the NFL from Pro Football Focus.

Though a small sample size, the success rate when throwing to the rookie tight end has fans demanding “More Heyward, less Johnson.”