Two days after Prince Harry made a 24-hour trip to London to visit his father, King Charles III, after a cancer diagnosis, he was back on the move with an appearance at the NFL Honors awards in Las Vegas. During the televised show, he presented the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award to Cameron Heyward, a defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His speech started with a joke about rugby, the English-invented sport that was adapted to become football. “I really love how you stole rugby from us and you made it your own,” he said. “Instead of passing it backwards, just pass it forwards. Why not wear pads and a helmet? Of course. Have an offense and defense—that makes sense. Why not take a breather every 15 seconds? And you know what? Instead of a 10-month season, let’s just make it 18 weeks. Genius.”
From 2016 to 2021, Harry served as the president of England’s Rugby Football Union and regularly attended major events and handed out championship trophies for the sport. When he left his role as a working royal, that job was given to Kate Middleton, herself an avid fan of the sport. In the years since, he intimated that his allegiances might be changing when he was spotted at the 2022 Super Bowl alongside his cousin, Princess Eugenie, in a box purchased by the company Salesforce.
When it was time to present the award to Heyward, he took a more serious tone. “All kidding aside, all you guys do on and off the field is truly remarkable,” Prince Harry continued. “You are role models for millions in the way you carry yourselves and in the way you give back. This final award, the highest honor, is all about serving your community. There’s one special man we’d like to pay tribute to now. A player who goes above and beyond and whose extraordinary commitment to helping others is a reflection of his own story.”
Afterwards, Heyward joined him on stage and the pair embraced, along with the night’s host, Keegan-Michael Key. The player seemed surprised about the person who had been chosen to give him the night’s award. “Man, Prince freaking Harry. Man, I’m in shock. That’s Prince Harry, he said. Following the event, Harry posed for a portrait with Heyward, who was holding the brass Walter Payton statue.
Later this month, Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, will head to Vancouver for the One Year to Go event in advance of the 2025 Invictus Games. Next year will mark the seventh edition of the Games, and the first to be held in Canada since he and Meghan made their public debut as a couple at the 2017 Games in Toronto.