Lavonte David's most recent trip to Baltimore netted him 12 tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and heaps of praise from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coaching staff. When David goes back to Baltimore this coming March, he'll earn another sort of accolade: the Ed Block Courage Award.
On Thursday, the Buccaneers announced that David would be this year's recipient of the prestigious annual award that honors one player on every team for the courage he displays during the season and the inspiration he provides to his teammates. The recipient is selected by a vote among the players. Previous Buccaneer recipients include Vincent Jackson, Ronde Barber, Mike Alstott, John Lynch, Derrick Brooks and Paul Gruber. Courage Award recipients will be honored at the 41st Ed Block Courage Award in Baltimore on Saturday, March 23.
The Ed Block Courage Award often goes to a player who overcomes injury to return to an elite level of performance, and David did return from a November knee injury that cost him two games to rack up 34 tackles, three sacks, four quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery over the next three games. Courage Award winners go to players who "exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage" and who display "extra efforts both on and off the field, and their ability to overcome great adversity."
But Courage Award recipients are also lauded for helping others overcome adversity. The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, named after the long-time Baltimore Colts athletic trainer, partners with NFL teams to pursue a mission of providing help to at-risk youth and victims of child abuse through its network of Courage Houses. As such a player's commitment to the community and to helping others is also considered when choosing award recipients. David has been a role model in this regard, as well.
The Lavonte David Foundation's "Lavonte Legends" program helps fulfill the promise of equal opportunity by assisting college-bound students who are succeeding academically but are financially challenged. Earlier this year, David and his foundation also provided free backpacks, school supplies and tablets in his hometown of Miami. David continues to serve as a "Big Champion" for Big Brothers Big Sisters, for which he hosted his annual Bowl For Kids' Sake event in Tampa and a Nebraska Meet and Greet in Omaha.
David's recent run of on-field production is nothing new, as he has been of the Buccaneers' top defenders and one of the NFL's best 4-3 outside linebackers since his arrival in 2012. This year, he leads the Buccaneers with 105 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, and he has now surpassed 100 tackles in six of his seven professional campaigns. David recently broke the franchise record for career fumble recoveries and he is the only player in the league to record at least 20 sacks (21.5) and at least 10 interceptions (11) over the last seven seasons.
The Ed Block Courage Award is unique in that, each year, the recipient is determined solely by votes of his teammates. Lavonte David clearly has the respect of his Buccaneer teammates for his continued excellence and ability to overcome adversity both on and off the field.