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Kelvin Beachum Spokesman Tendencies Earn Him PFWA Award

Tackle addresses Damar Hamlin situation; Baker named Herberg Team MVP

Kelvin Beachum laughs during his press conference on Wednesday.
Kelvin Beachum laughs during his press conference on Wednesday.

Kelvin Beachum has been there, every time.

A voice of reason after a difficult loss? The veteran right tackle would talk. An offensive line spokesman after the dismissal of coach Sean Kugler? Beachum stood in front of the cameras. Someone to answer for the offensive woes that happened too often this season? Beachum was available.

There Beachum was again Wednesday, in part because he was accepting the honor he very much deserved, the annual Steve Schoenfeld "Good Guy" award, voted by the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America to the player who not only represented himself and the team well with the media but also showing up every week to play well.

With players available for the first time to talk after the heart attack suffered by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin Monday night, putting Hamlin's life in jeopardy, Beachum was also the natural to speak on it, again eloquent in his thoughts.

Like it could be any other way.

"I was out on the field today and, you're kind of numb to it," Beachum said. "You're tasked with playing the game week in and week out. You sense something and you feel something for what happened Monday night, and your heart goes out for the family, and it goes out for Damar, and you just don't know how to cope with it.

"We talk about it amongst each other. We're praying for him, and we're trying to play football in spite of."

At 33, his safety and his future often crawls through his head, especially after teammate J.J. Watt had his heart scare earlier this season. The Hamlin situation brought it up again, and after a call with his parents Monday night, Beachum acknowledged he heard questions from his father "that I'm not really ready to talk about."

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons noted that Hamlin and he are both 24, and the two played each other in the ACC when Simmons was at Clemson and Hamlin was at Pittsburgh and said "it's hard to process things like that. It was such a routine tackle."

Simmons also wants to be there for college teammate Tee Higgins, "one of my best friends" who was the Bengals play Hamlin tackled before suffering the heart attack. Higgins has gotten some unwarranted criticism for the happenstance of where he was on the play.

"I just want to check in on (Higgins) because this affects him as well," Simmons said. "I just want to be the friend, the brother I would want in this situation."

But Simmons also said he is approaching this week like any other, because worrying about getting injured, he said, makes it more likely it will happen.

Beachum, who will be a free agent after the season, said he too wants to continue playing next year. But when it comes to health, players do have to compartmentalize and "do you want to continue to compartmentalize and everything that comes with the game."

Beachum is always there, though. He'll be the lone offensive lineman to start all 17 games this season.

"He doesn't have to be playing particularly in this situation," Kingsbury said. "(He) had a sprained MCL, a sprained ankle and continues to play and wants to finish what he started. That says all you need to know about him."

Beachum takes pride in being available, noting that his father and grandfather still get up every day to work on cars back home in Texas. And, Beachum said with a smile, he's had some help.

"I'm drugged up enough where I can move on. I'm just being honest," Beachum said. "I've got a week left, you play this game long enough, that's what it is. Toradol has helped me quite a bit this year."

Beachum wasn't the only award winner. Safety Budda Baker, the team's lone Pro Bowler, was voted the Lloyd Herberg team MVP. Baker, on IR with a shoulder injury, was not available for an interview.

Both awards are named after former Arizona Republic Cardinals beat writers who lost their lives. Schoenfeld was crossing a street when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2000; Herberg succumbed to cancer in 1994.

"I was with Rodney (Hudson) Monday night and he said, 'One of the things you learn from seasons like this is you learn how to treat people,' " Beachum said. "Considering everything that has happened this year, the wins, the losses, the tough losses, the tough outcomes, you still have to treat people the right way."