Cameron Heyward Myles Garrett

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward argued T.J. Watt was “robbed” for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award when Myles Garrett won instead.

Defensive end Cameron Heyward of the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn’t have a vote for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award. But if he did, Heyward made it clear while appearing on The Rich Eisen Show that he would have voted for T.J. Watt over Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.

“Man, he is a complete player. I think he was robbed of defensive player of the year,” Heyward said of Watt on April 3. “That dude is a complete player, and he’s the best defensive player in our league right now.”

That’s not an overly shocking admission. It would be surprising if Heyward didn’t endorse his fellow defensive captain for a major award.

But Heyward’s support for Watt could also be viewed as indirect disapproval that Garrett won the award.

Garrett won the 2023 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award with 23 first-place votes. Watt received 19 first-place votes. Overall, Garrett received 165 vote points versus Watt’s 140.

Watt finished the 2023 season with a league-leading 19 sacks. He also had 19 tackles for loss, 36 quarterback hits, 8 pass defenses, 4 forced fumbles and 1 interception.

Garrett had 14 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, 30 quarterback hits, 3 pass defenses and 4 forced fumbles.


Aaron Donald Appears to Agree With Cameron Heyward About T.J. Watt’s Snub

No one has won more Defensive Player of the Year awards than Aaron Donald. If not for Donald’s dominance, other NFL defenders could have received recognition for the league’s most prestigious defensive award.

Or maybe Watt would have won Defensive Player of the Year more than once.

In an exclusive interview with his wife, Erica, Donald seemed to suggest that Watt could easily have as many Defensive Player of the Year awards as he does — three.

“I felt like he should have won a couple more Defensive Player (of the Year Awards), he kind of got snubbed a couple times, I ain’t gonna lie,” said Donald.

Like Heyward, Donald didn’t address Garrett. The 8-time All-Pro didn’t even specify which years Watt was snubbed for the award.

But given that Watt had superior statistics to Garrett, the 2023 campaign is a leading candidate for one of the snubs Donald referred to.

Supporters of Garrett’s have often argued this offseason that he deserved the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year award because of his 27% pass-rush win rate. According to Pro Football Focus, that was the best rate in the NFL during 2023.


Watt’s Reaction to Finishing Second to Myles Garrett

Watt wasn’t present for the NFL Honors on February 8. But he was active on social media that night and appeared to send his own indirect message.

“Nothing I’m not used to,” Watt wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Watt wrote that post just shortly before the league announced Garrett as the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year.

Watt won the award when he tied the NFL single-season sack record with 22.5 sacks during the 2021 season. He also led the league with 21 tackles for loss in 2021.

But Watt is more used to finishing as a runner-up for the award. In addition to 2023, he finished second for the award to Donald in 2020 and third behind Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones during the 2019 season.

Watt’s tweet seemed to imply he will be very motivated to win the award during the 2024 season. It will be interesting to see if the “Watt was snubbed” narrative from Heyward and Donald also motivates Garrett.

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