On Thursday Night, Pittsburgh Steelers DE Cameron Heyward was honored with the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Today, it was another Steelers defender, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, getting honored for their off-the-field work, as Fitzpatrick was presented the 2023 Bart Starr Award. The Bart Starr Award honors a player for his outstanding character, leadership and integrity on and off the field, and Fitzpatrick became the first Steelers player to win the award. He was presented the award by Tony Dungy at the Super Bowl Breakfast, with head coach Mike Tomlin in attendance.
“A couple of nights ago, we recognized Cam Heyward with the Walter Payton Man of the Year. This morning it’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’s not my style to be at the Super Bowl site to be quite honest with you, unless I’m working. I’m leaving here and going directly to the airport. This man, Minkah Fitzpatrick, is so deserving of this recognition. I would not miss this. I read the description of what this award embodies…a man of high character, values, integrity, and leadership on and off the field,” Tomlin said via Steelers.com. “And it could have just said, Minkah Fitzpatrick.
In addition to Tomlin, a handful of former winners, including former Cincinnati Bengals OT and former Atlanta Falcons RB Warrick Dunn were on hand to honor Fitzpatrick. In addition, former Steelers LB Robert Spillane was in attendance, as was core special teamer Miles Killebrew, who was in Vegas last week for the Pro Bowl Games. Dungy, a former Steelers player and coach who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, presented the award and talked earlier this week about what made Fitzpatrick so deserving of the award.
The faith-based organization Athletes In Action is who the award is presented to, and Fitzpatrick recently talked about how much he is influenced and committed to his faith in a video for CBN News. In addition to being a man of faith, Fitzpatrick has done a lot of work in the community that make him deserving of the award, including working with the Steelers Social Justice Committee, in addition to the Dreambuilders Foundation which gives away bikes to local foster kids.
Fitzpatrick and Heyward are just as good off the field as they are on it, and the Steelers are lucky to have them. It says a lot that Tomlin made a point to be around for the two of them to receive their honors despite not usually one to go to the Super Bowl, and hopefully on the field Fitzpatrick can have more success following an injury-plagued 2023.