According to Philadelphia Eagles players, the most courageous man on the team in 2009 was one who started the year serving time in prison for an act of extreme cowardice.
Today, the Eagles announced that Michael Vick was the 2009 winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, an honor given to a player who shows courage in the face of adversity. Vick's teammates voted for the award, thus demonstrating how tone-deaf and out-of-touch NFL players are with reality.
According to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation Web site:
Each year, the Ed Block Courage Awards honors those National Football League players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Recipients are selected by their teammates for team effort, as well as individual performance.
The Ed Block Courage Award recipient symbolizes professionalism, great strength and dedication. He is also a community role model.
One recipient is selected from each NFL team, usually for things like coming back from injury, doing good work in the community or long, dedicated service to a franchise. I'd be surprised if the award's founders intended for the honor to be given to someone doing community service as part of the terms of his parole or for showing courage in the face of reporters asking legitimate questions about federal crimes.
The Eagles' vote is not only a slap in the face to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, but to the other 31 players who won the award for their respective teams. Some men are truly deserving of the honor, like Ravens safety Dawan Landry(notes) who was nearly paralyzed last year, but has come back in '09 with four interceptions and a touchdown or Mike Furrey(notes) of the Browns, who does extensive volunteer work in his community. Adding Vick's name to the roll makes the award seem illegitimate and meaningless.
Apparently Philadelphia players confuse Vick handling dogfighting questions and booing with a measure of class as some sort of courage. That Vick only got a chance to show this mild courageousness because of the extreme cowardice it takes to murder helpless animals isn't something that crosses their mind. They confuse Vick's desperation with some sort of integrity.
I'm all for second chances and find myself rooting for Vick to redeem himself both on and off the football field. He's served an appropriate sentence (and then some) and I see no reason for him to keep paying for his past transgressions. But I also see no reason to celebrate his character.
Thanks, Pro Football Talk