Off the field, Heyward-Bey has saved most of his career earnings of about $35 million, largely from his rookie contract as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft.
The secret, Heyward-Bey told ESPN: his mother, Vivian, a certified accountant and, as a result, a co-worker.
Vivian handles the books, and those books are thick.
"I get an email [from her] every Tuesday," said Heyward-Bey, who pays a commission for his mother's work. "I can read it over, check it up. I see where the money is going."
Heyward-Bey made $30.3 million in four years with the Raiders, according to Spotrac.com, which tracks NFL salary data. He never had the 1,000-yard season that could have earned him the big second contract, but he's been a steady option for Pittsburgh, which re-signed him to a three-year, $3.8 million deal in March. He caught a touchdown pass in Week 7 against the New England Patriots, and he's on the first-team depth chart alongside Antonio Brown as the Steelers prepare for the Baltimore Ravens.
More than eight years after signing that rookie deal, Heyward-Bey, 29, gives himself a monthly allowance that he and his mother configured. Though he won't disclose exact figures, he assures that pot keeps growing because he doesn't spend much of that money.
Heyward-Bey even shuts down the cable in his California home for half the year because "nobody's there watching TV."
"I don't have any kids and I'm not married, so the money I spend is on me. It's really easy to say no to myself," Heyward-Bey said. "I keep things real simple. I'm not really a flashy guy. I understand what I want to buy. I invest my money well and pay my taxes."
Heyward-Bey ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL scouting combine, and he's also quick to run to his mother for financial wisdom. She's been an accountant for more than 20 years, Heyward-Bey said.
"I grew up knowing what to spend and what not to spend," Heyward-Bey said. "It's easy when you don't have money to not spend. That's how I grew up."