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Cameron Heyward: “I don’t always feel comfortable around police officers”

The Steelers bring back a lot of their defensive playmakers going into 2020 and Pittsburgh's identity this season could be linked to that stout unit.

Cameron Heyward’s one of the more popular and recognizable players for the Steelers, but he doesn’t always feel that way when he’s in Pittsburgh.

The star defensive end said during an appearance on 102.5 FM that the national discussion about police brutality and race relations stemming from the death of George Floyd resonated at a personal level with him.

“My wife is white, and we have had a talk like this, and I have had to tell her ‘I don’t always feel comfortable around police officers,’” Heyward said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I almost feel like I have to be to-the-book and be to-the-T. I have to make sure they know that I am not in any instance trying to make them feel threatened. I almost have to articulate even more and make sure that I want them to be safe.”

Heyward was careful to say multiple times that he believed most cops were not bad, and that “so many of them are great people and so many great cops that do a great job.” But he also recounted a story that illustrated his fear.

He said that after arriving back in Pittsburgh from a late flight, he was pulled over by police. His ID was in his wallet (which was in his luggage in the back of the car), and by the time the stop ended, three more police vehicles showed up on the scene.

“There’s been times where like there is almost like a radar in my brain,” Heyward said, “where I am like, ‘OK, I’ve got to make sure things don’t get out of hand.’ ”

He’s also frustrated with the fact only one of the four officers involved in the death of Floyd has been charged so far.

“I want these protesters to have their voices be heard,” Heyward said. “I’m all for everybody giving people a fair shake — but how those three cops were not arrested when it comes to George Floyd? It’s a spiral — and we are worrying about protesting now instead of worrying about the people who need to be arrested, get arrested.

“There are great people that protect our world, but we have racism and people not being for the betterment of our world or the betterment of every man. We are living in a screwed-up world.”

While there’s plenty of room for discussion on the sensitive topics involved, there can be no debate about his final point.