INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis has been selected by his teammates as the recipient of the 2011 Ed Block Courage Award.
The award is an annual recognition for courageous play by an individual and Mathis 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, Maryland each March.
"Robert competes with dedication and inspiration on the gridiron and it's no surprise to me that his teammates have selected him as this year's recipient," said Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell. "I am amazed at the level of intensity Robert plays with each week and he is a true professional in every way."
Mathis is in his ninth season with the Colts after being selected by the team in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. In seven games this season, he has totaled 14 tackles (nine solo) and ranks second on the team with 3.5 sacks. Mathis has also contributed with one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed.
In 126 career games (62 starts), Mathis has compiled 408 tackles (314 solo), 77.5 sacks, 37 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries and eight passes defensed. His sack total ranks second in franchise history and his 37 forced fumbles are the second-highest mark in the NFL from 2002-2011. Mathis has recorded four 10-plus sack seasons. In 2005, he registered a sack in 11 of 13 games and set an NFL record with sacks in eight consecutive contests to start a season. Mathis has 18 multiple-sack games in his career and two three-plus sack contests.
Off the field, Mathis lends his support to numerous charitable endeavors. For the past several years, he has been a key figure in the Colts annual "Shop With A Colt" event, helping to provide a special holiday shopping spree for 40 underprivileged youth. He also started his "98 Degreez" ticket block in 2009 to donate 10 tickets, t-shirts, meal vouchers and field visits to various community organizations at each Colts home game. During the Thanksgiving holiday, Mathis lends his support to the team's "SACKing Hunger" campaign, which helps provide more than two tons of food for Gleaners Food Pantry each year. Mathis has also supported several of his teammates' charitable endeavors, including wide receiver Reggie Wayne's Annual United Way fundraiser, linebacker Gary Brackett's IMPACT Foundation, and defensive back Melvin Bullitt and defensive back Antoine Bethea's "Fight for Life Foundation." In his home state of Georgia and where he attended college at Alabama A&M, Mathis regularly visits schools, as well as the Boys & Girls Clubs and has donated nearly $10,000 to college and local high school sports programs.
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-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 33rd annual Ed Block Courage Award dinner is schedule during March in Baltimore, Maryland. 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.