|No. 33, 34, 45|
|Date of birth:||September 26, 1966|
|Place of birth:||Passaic, New Jersey|
|Date of death:||May 27, 2006 39)(aged|
|Place of death:||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Height:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight:||265 lb (120 kg)|
|High school:||Passaic (NJ)|
|NFL Draft:||1988 / Round: 1 / Pick: 24|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Craig William "Ironhead" Heyward (September 26, 1966 – May 27, 2006) was an American football fullback who played for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams, and Indianapolis Colts in an 11-year National Football League (NFL) career.
He was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round (24th pick overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft out of the University of Pittsburgh; Heyward's 3,086 career rushing yards rank third all-time at Pitt in only three seasons. He declared himself eligible for the 1988 draft after his junior year. In 1987 at Pittsburgh, Heyward rushed for 1,791 yards to earn consensus All-America honors and finish fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
Heyward was widely regarded as a nightmare for opposing defenses because he was often as big, and sometimes bigger, than the defenders who had to stop him, and had surprising quickness and agility. One of the NFL's best "big man" running backs in the vein of Earl Campbell, Heyward, at 5' 11" and reportedly weighing 340 pounds, was a punishing runner who was also a devastating blocker and good receiver. Heyward slimmed down to closer to 280.
In the mid-1990s, Heyward showcased his sense of humor in a series of television commercials for Zest body wash, introducing a generation of American men to the modern version of the Luffa that is now a fixture in many showers and bathtubs. The "lather-builder" and Heyward's tough-guy image created a humorous contrast in the advertisement, culminating in a voting campaign that named it the "thingy".
|1988||New Orleans Saints||11||74||355||4.8||73||1||13||105||8.1||18||0|
|1989||New Orleans Saints||16||49||183||3.7||15||1||13||69||5.3||12||0|
|1990||New Orleans Saints||16||129||599||4.6||47||4||18||121||6.7||12||0|
|1991||New Orleans Saints||7||76||260||3.4||15||4||4||34||8.5||22||1|
|1992||New Orleans Saints||16||104||416||4.0||23||3||19||159||8.4||21||0|
|1997||St. Louis Rams||16||34||84||2.5||8||1||8||77||9.6||25||0|
When Heyward was "12 or 13," according to his son, Cameron Heyward, a defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers writing for the Players' Tribune, he was at the Boys & Girls Club in Passaic, New Jersey, when another boy approached him and ultimately broke a pool cue over Heyward's head. Heyward barely flinched, and after relating the story later, his grandmother called him "Ironhead," and the nickname stuck. Heyward carried the nickname through Passaic High School, where it also became a reference to his wild-man strength and the fact that he had to wear a hat size of 8¾. Heyward's obituary in The New York Times made an additional reference; that in street football games he would lower his head into the stomach of the tackler and one opponent said it hurt so much that Heyward's head must be made of iron.
Heyward's son Cameron plays defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played for the Ohio State Buckeyes, where he was named a freshman All-American in 2007 and honored as a team captain. He was drafted by the Steelers in the first round (31st pick overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft. He would write the words "IRON HEAD" on his eye black as a tribute to his father. Heyward's oldest son, Craig Jr., was a walk-on at Middle Tennessee State, where he played primarily on special teams. He was signed to the Trenton Steel of the SIFL where he was a running back. Heyward's youngest son, Corey, graduated from Peachtree Ridge High School and played basketball for Georgia Tech.
Cancer and death
In November 1998 Heyward reported blurred vision in his right eye, and was diagnosed with a malignant bone cancer, reportedly a chordoma, at the base of his skull that was pressing on the optic nerve. After it was partially removed in a 12-hour operation, he underwent 40 rounds of radiation treatments and was later pronounced cancer-free; but in 2005 the tumor recurred and he died on May 27, 2006, at the age of 39.
- Heyward, Cameron (August 11, 2016). "For Ironhead".
- Idec, Keith (June 9, 2006). "Heyward remembered fondly at memorial service". Herald News. Retrieved July 12, 2007.
Heyward played 11 NFL seasons for five franchises and was a Heisman Trophy candidate his junior season at Pitt. But it is what he did during his remarkable run at Passaic High School that they remember most fondly.
- Litsky, Frank. "Craig Heyward, Who Was N.F.L.'s Ironhead, Is Dead at 39", The New York Times, May 29, 2006. "He would lower his head into tacklers' stomachs, and one opponent said it hurt so much that Heyward's head had to be made of iron. Once, Heyward said, a youngster clubbed him over his size 8¾ head with a billiard cue. The cue broke in half."
- Pasquarelli, Len (May 28, 2006). "'Ironhead' Heyward loses battle with recurring tumor". ESPN. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
- Craig Heyward at Pro-Football-Reference.com
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette remembrance of Pittsburgh great Craig Heyward
- University of Pittsburgh remembers Ironhead
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Former fullback Craig "Ironhead" Heyward dies" May 27, 2006 accessed May 28, 2006
- Heyward lived by big heart, By Thomas George, Denver Post Staff Columnist
- Sports E-Cyclopedia's Memoriam to "Ironhead"
- FindAGrave.com entry