There was a time last year when Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson, at age 35, thought his career might be over.
He had torn his Achilles in a preseason game, knocking him out for the entire year.
But Watson, who had signed with Baltimore just a few months earlier, wanted to come back and help his team. He wanted to set an example for his five children by battling through the adversity. He wanted to keep playing the game.
Now, after recently turning 37 years old, Watson leads the Ravens in receptions and receiving touchdowns – just a little more than a year after his horrific injury.
For that and more, Watson has been voted by his teammates as the Ravens' Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2017.
"It's humbling," Watson said. "Anytime you're chosen for something by your teammates, it's an honor."
Each year, the Ed Block Courage Awards honor one player from every NFL team who exemplifies commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. It is solely determined by a vote from their teammates. The Ed Block Courage Award recipient symbolizes professionalism, great strength and dedication, and is a role model in the community.
Watson has been all that and more in his second year as a Raven.
Nobody would have blamed Watson if he decided to hang up his cleats last season, but he battled through a long and arduous rehab to get back on the field, where he has become perhaps quarterback Joe Flacco's most reliable target.
In addition to his 49 receptions and four touchdowns, Watson has 421 receiving yards. He scored a huge 33-yard touchdown in last Sunday's win in Cleveland.
He's not only gotten the job done on the field, but is also the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for his work in the community. Watson has rallied behind many causes, and traveled the world, to help in the pursuit of kindness, justice and righteousness.
"Holy smokes, this guy is a unique man," Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Wednesday. "Very unique in many, many ways. The level at which he is playing – it is a huge level to begin with – and at his age, that is a tribute to him certainly."
The Ed Block awards ceremony will be held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Baltimore on Saturday, March 10. There will be a community outreach event at the nearby Rita R. Church Community Center and St. Vincent's Villa in the afternoon.