Brett Keiselplays a huge role in the Steelers success on the field, but off the field, his role in the community is just as important. For his efforts, Keisel has been named the Steelers 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Keisel will be one of 32 NFL teams' Man of the Year winners who qualifies for the league's national 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The award recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well his playing excellence. The overall winner will be announced during Super Bowl XLVI week in Indianapolis.
Keisel gives his time to a number of charities in the Pittsburgh area. During the 2010 season, Keisel grew his now world-famous beard. Once the season ended, he held a fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC's Cancer Research Center, called "Shear the Beard." A sold-out crowd of spectators, teammates, family and friends watched the beard disappear. In all, the event raised more than $40,000 for the Research Center.
Keisel is honorary chair of the annual Cystic Fibrosis 65 Roses Sports Auction. The event raises money for research in finding a cure for the disease. He also serves as the Steelers spokesman for the NFL-American Heart Association Play 60 Challenge and has visited area schools conducting assemblies encouraging youth to stay active and exercise 60 minutes per day.
Even Brett's wife, Sarah, provides a helping hand for the community. Brett and Sarah serve as honorary co-chairs of the Champions for Children event benefiting the Homeless Children's Education Fund. The charity works to afford equal access for homeless children to the same education opportunities and experience as their peers. Brett and Sarah also love to participate in the Salvation Army's Project Bundle Up shopping night and he has read to children as part of Read Across America.
The Keisels also annually participate in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk in support of teammate Aaron Smith's son, Elijah, who is battling the disease. They can also be seen each year on the runway at the annual Steelers Style Fashion Show to benefit the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at UPMC and the Cancer Caring Center.
Keisel also joined his teammates the day before a road game vs. Baltimore at Bethesda Naval Medical Center to visit wounded soldiers who were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A seventh-round pick from Brigham Young University, Keisel has established himself as an anchor on the Steelers' defensive line. Considered one of the most athletic players on the team, he was selected to his first Pro Bowl for the 2010 season, in which he recorded his first career interception and first career defensive touchdown. Keisel's fumble recovery in Super Bowl XLIII sealed the 27-23 victory for the Steelers, and his two sacks in the AFC Championship Game in 2005 guided the Steelers to Super Bowl XL, their first Super Bowl appearance in 11 seasons.