Since I became aware of their mission and purpose, The Ed Block Courage Foundation has occupied a special place in my heart. Every March the foundation rewards a member of each NFL club who in their own unique way demonstrated uncommon determination and perseverance to successfully overcome oftentimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to positively affect his team.
Each of the 32 awards is voted upon by the recipients’ teammates making the honor that much more special. It’s those teammates who witness the struggle behind the scenes and away from the discerning eyes and ears of fans and the media. Honor, humility and selflessness are often rewarded and brought to the forefront much to the chagrin of many recipients. These are qualities once embodied in the award’s namesake.
Of course I’m referring to Ed Block.
The awarded athletes collectively are the star attraction for the awards ceremony but they for all intents and purposes second on the bill to the real stars – the children of the Ed Block Courage Houses. One only needs to refer to the core of the organization’s mission statement for proof.
"The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of neglected children and ending the cycle of abuse. The purpose is to raise Awareness and Prevention of child abuse. That objective is coupled with the Foundation’s commitment to celebrating players of inspiration in the NFL."
Unfortunately this mission took a hit recently when it was announced that Michael Vick had been voted in as the recipient for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Michael Vick, less than one year removed from prison for inflicting incredibly heinous acts upon defenseless animals will represent the Eagles at the Ed Block Courage Awards here in Baltimore. This is the same Vick who once assumed the alias of Ron Mexico to circumvent a sex scandal; the same Vick accused of trying to board a plane with a water bottle equipped with a hidden compartment allegedly laced with marijuana residue; the former Atlanta Falcons’ player who flipped the bird towards his hometown fans.
And let’s not forget all of the creditors he stiffed.
Keep in mind that this is an award often bestowed upon players, coaches or trainers who have battled cancer; or uncommonly served their communities; or endured excruciating pain to rehabilitate a devastating injury in order to take the field again in a productive way to help and support their respective teams and families.
These are men of honor.
Mike Vick might be appreciative but a man of honor?
Vick has already received award – a second chance and a new NFL contract. And that’s ok I suppose in this forgiving society but how is that honorable? Did he have any other choice than to suck it up and toe the line of acceptable behavior? Let’s not forget that he had multi-million financial reasons to toe that line and be a conformist.
Should he have been given a second chance?
I think so.
Has he respected this privilege?
So far, so good.
Should he be mentioned in the same breath as previous Ed Block Courage Award winners like Warrick Dunn, Kurt Warner, Priest Holmes, Warren Moon, Chad Pennington, Peter Boulware, and Eddie George and on and on?
Of course not!
If you thought Ernest Byner’s inclusion in the Ravens’ Ring of Honor cheapened that award’s luster, relatively speaking the coveted Ed Block Courage Award has just been dumped on by a truckload of dead dog and puppy carcasses with the news of Vick’s award.
His inclusion taints the award for past recipients and the bar just fell to the floor when considering future recipients. The knuckleheads in Philadelphia just paved the way to the Ed Block Banquet for NFL thugs like Pacman Jones, should the league ever reinstate him. All it will take is one season of toeing the company line, being cordial to teammates, feigning remorsefulness and cashing healthy paychecks on Fridays.
Ed Block must be rolling over in his grave.
Maybe the folks over at the old Courage House should show some courage of their own and rescind this award to Vick.
Hasn’t Vick done enough damage?