Right guard Marshal Yanda is the Ravens' 2018 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. It is presented to the player who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage, while also recognizing a player's efforts on the field and his ability to overcome adversity.
The award was selected by a vote of Yanda's teammates and was presented to him following Friday's practice. He has returned to being one of the NFL's best offensive linemen after playing just two games in 2017 due to a season-ending ankle injury. A shoulder injury also required Yanda to have surgery last winter and he did not play at all during the preseason.
A six-time Pro Bowler, Yanda is one of the locker room's most respected players, who has spent his entire 12-year career with the Ravens.
"You fight your tail off to come back healthy and play, and I'm very grateful to be back this year," Yanda said. "We're all fighting together as a team. The more years you're in the NFL, you want guys to look up to you. You want to do things the right way every single day. You want to be a role model for those young guys. When I was a younger player, there were role models for me, guys who did it the right way every single day. I never forgot that. As I matured as a player, I wanted to be one of those guys you could look up, ask questions to, lean on."
The award is named for Ed Block, the longtime head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts who was a respected humanitarian. In 1989, the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation formulated the Courage House National Support System for Kids.
Every team votes for one player to win the award. Quarterback Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and defensive end Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers are among other recipients of the award this season.
A year ago, Yanda was rehabbing his ankle. Now he is playing meaningful games in December and calls this season one of his most enjoyable at age 34.
"I'm definitely living in the moment, one day at a time, one game at a time," Yanda said. "It's in the back of my mind that this game can be taken away from you in one play. I'm happy to be a part of it again. I'm relishing this time. I understand it's a young man's game and I'm an old man. But I still love competing, love the camaraderie, just love this game."
Ravens safety Eric Weddle was also honored Friday, announced by the NFL as one of eight finalists for the 2018 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. It is presented each year to an NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.
The winner, selected by a vote of the players, will be announced during the nationally televised NFL Honors show Feb. 2 on CBS, the night before Super Bowl LIII. In addition to Weddle, this year's finalists are defensive end Calais Campbell (Jacksonville Jaguars); tight ends Antonio Gates (Los Angeles Chargers) and Vernon Davis (Washington Redskins); quarterbacks Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) and Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints); offensive tackle Joe Staley (San Francisco 49ers) and cornerback Tramon Williams (Green Bay Packers).