INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea has been selected by his teammates as the recipient of the 2012 Ed Block Courage Award.
The award is an annual recognition for courageous play by an individual and Bethea is one of 32 National Football League players who earned the accolade. The players of each member club nominate an individual annually and those chosen are honored at a banquet in Baltimore each March.
"Being named the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award means a lot especially considering that Ed Block was part of the Colts organization," said Bethea. "It's an honor to be recognized by my peers and it's incredible to know that I'll be grouped with past winners who are some of the greatest players to put on the Colts uniform."
Bethea is in his seventh season with the Colts after being selected by the team in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. In seven games this season, he ranks second on the team with 57 tackles (41 solo) and tied for first with six passes defensed.
"His leadership is great and his heart and desire as a player is unmatched," said offensive coordinator/interim head coach Bruce Arians. "He's as tough as they get. He's a great recipient for a great award. He embodies what the whole thing is all about."
Bethea, a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2007 and 2009), has started all 98 games he's played in, compiling 748 tackles (467 solo), 40 passes defensed, 12 interceptions, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He has topped 100-plus tackles in each of the last four seasons and is on pace for his fifth-straight 100-tackle season. In addition, Bethea has paced the Colts in interceptions over the last six seasons since he took over the starting role.
Off the field, Bethea lends his support to numerous charitable endeavors. In 2011, he launched his Safe Coverage Foundation, which is committed to providing access and resources for students to achieve their dreams of a higher education. The foundation believes that by providing exposure opportunities, enrichment experiences and the tools needed to succeed, it can change communities, one child at a time. As part of the foundation, the Safe Coverage College Tour looks to build a connection between inner-city high school students and universities by exposing the teenagers to campus life through visits and meetings with college counselors and faculty. The Safe Coverage Technology Program* *provides 30 laptops or iPads to high school seniors attending two or four-year degree and/or certification programs. The Safe Coverage Tickets for Kids Program provides 20 Indianapolis Colts home game tickets, meal vouchers and Antoine Bethea cinch bags for Indianapolis youth. Bethea has also hosted football camps over the summer in Indianapolis, Newport News, Va. and Washington, D.C.
The award is named after Ed Block who was the head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts from 1954-1977. He served as trainer emeritus with the club until he passed away in 1983.
Past winners of the award dating back to 2000, include: DE-Robert Mathis (2011), DE-Dwight Freeney (2010), DB-Marlin Jackson (2009), C-Jeff Saturday (2008), OG-Ryan Lilja (2007), WR-Reggie Wayne (2006), LB-Cato June (2005), LB-Gary Brackett (2004), DE-Chad Bratzke (2003), LB-Rob Morris (2002), QB-Peyton Manning (2001) and DT-Bernard Whittington (2000).
The 35th annual Ed Block Courage Award dinner is scheduled during March in Baltimore. Proceeds from the affair benefit the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation in Baltimore. The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation's objective is to establish homes for abused children in each NFL city. Indianapolis established an Ed Block Courage home (Children's Bureau) in October of 2000. The home is part of a national support network for abused children.