Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard has been selected by his teammates as the recipient of the 2022 Ed Block Courage Award.
The award is an annual recognition for courageous play by an individual, and Leonard 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 traditionally honored at a banquet in Baltimore.
"To be selected by my teammates for this distinguished honor is a blessing," said Leonard. "As NFL players, we have a platform to make an impact in the communities that we represent. I take great pride in being a servant leader and inspiring the youth in Indianapolis and my hometown of Lake View, South Carolina."
Leonard is a four-time All-Pro choice (First Team in 2018, 2020 and 2021; Second Team in 2019). He has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls (2019-21). Leonard has played in 61 regular season games (59 starts) and has totaled 549 tackles (351 solo), 30.0 tackles for loss, 15.0 sacks, 12 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 31 passes defensed, 17 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. He was originally selected by Indianapolis in the second round (36th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Since entering the NFL in 2018, Leonard ranks at the top of the league in numerous defensive categories among linebackers, including total tackles (eighth), solo tackles (ninth), interceptions (first), forced fumbles (second) and 10-tackle games (25, fourth). He registered 100 total tackles in each of his first four seasons in the NFL. Since 1985, Leonard is just the fifth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat and only the second player to do so in their first four seasons in the league.
In the community, Leonard has dedicated himself to giving back to his hometown of Lake View, S.C. and Indianapolis. In 2022, he donated $38,484 to renovate Hilltop Park in Lake View, and hosted a football camp for 200 kids at the park. To kick off the new school year, Leonard did a backpack giveaway that benefited around 380 students at Lake View Elementary. At Lake View High School, he donated $56,500 to improve the football field. Leonard also contributed $3,511 towards Coats for Kids and provided $3,500 in Thanksgiving turkeys for his hometown.
In 2020, Leonard and his wife, Kayla, launched the Maniac Foundation, which is dedicated to transforming communities through education, wellness programs, serving families in need and other charitable causes. His deep knowledge of the Lake View and Indianapolis communities, and the people who make up those communities has allowed the Maniac Foundation to have an extensive reach.
In its first year, the Maniac Foundation provided over $100,000 in grants, educational materials and resources to the Lake View and Indianapolis communities. At their inaugural event, they raised over $680,000, which went directly to programs and initiatives throughout the Lake View and Indianapolis communities that support the Maniac Foundation's mission statement.
Leonard is an outspoken advocate for the Irsay family and Colts' "Kicking the Stigma" initiative, which is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health disorders and to remove the shame and stigma too often associated with these illnesses. He shares his own mental health experiences in videos, PSAs and roundtable discussions. Leonard launched a mental health hotline through the Maniac Foundation in April 2022 that provides a monthly motivational message from Leonard and readily available resources to those facing mental health challenges.
The award is named after Ed Block who was the head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts from 1954-77. He served as trainer emeritus with the club until he passed away in 1983.
Past winners of the award dating back to 2000, include: WR-T.Y. Hilton (2021), P-Rigoberto Sanchez (2020), DE-Jabaal Sheard (2019), TE-Jack Doyle (2018), S-Clayton Geathers (2017), QB-Andrew Luck (2016), G/T-Joe Reitz (2015), TE-Dwayne Allen (2014), DE-Cory Redding (2013), S-Antoine Bethea (2012), 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 45th annual Ed Block Courage Awards is scheduled for April 1-2, 2023, at the Renaissance Hotel 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.