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O.J. Brigance Wins George Halas Award


O.J. Brigance is being recognized for his inspiring life story.

The former NFL and CFL player, and current member of the Ravens' front office, was selected as the George Halas Award winner by the Pro Football Writers of America, the organization announced Monday.

The George Halas Award recognizes an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.

"I am speechless about being the recipient of the 2014 George Halas Award," Brigance said. "To witness the great triumphs been reaped from the seed of adversity truly displays the power of God to make all things work out for good."

Brigance, 44, is currently in his sixth year of battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease). He works as the Ravens' senior advisor to player development, and is also extremely active in the community raising awareness and funding for ALS research and patient care. 

He is the first Raven to win the award in its 45-year history.

"To be the first Raven to receive the award is a direct reflection of commitment of the Ravens organization to its employees," Brigance said. "Since my diagnosis in 2007, Mr. [Steve] Biscotti, Mr. [Dick] Cass, Mr. [Ozzie] Newsome, Coach [John] Harbaugh and the entire team has stood with me and I am so blessed. The opportunity to continue to be productive gives me a purpose to press on despite of ALS."

His foundation, the Brigance Brigade, held an inaugural 5.7K race this spring in Baltimore that raised $110,000. Previously Brigance was an honorary chair for the annual Fiesta 5K run that raised more than $1 million during his six years as a chair.

Last year he wrote a book, "Strength of a Champion," which shares his life story as a championship football player and overcoming the struggles he has endured in fighting ALS.

Brigance's battle with ALS has confined him to a wheel chair and robbed him of the use of his arms, legs and voice. He speaks through a computerized device that transmits sentences he types using eye movement.

While the disease creates physical limitations, it does not impact a person's mental capacity, and Brigance continues to bring awareness to finding a cure for the illness. He still has an integral role within the Ravens organization, and is a source of motivation for players, coaches and staff members.

"O.J. Brigance is the most influential person in our organization," Harbaugh said. "In a building of strong men, he is the strongest we have. You are energized each and every day to see how he attacks every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, and we are blessed to have such an inspiring man with us every day."

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