Adversity is part of playing in the NFL. Many players have to overcome hardship to succeed. The Ed Block Courage Award is a way to honor players who have found a way to lead through injury and adversity while displaying sportsmanship and for 2013 the Vikings selected Kevin Williams as the recipient.
“It’s a tremendous honor to me for my teammates to think that highly of me,” Williams said. “It just shows you, what you do on the team and community, it really pays off. I was a little surprised when they told me I was the recipient this year but I really appreciate it from my team.”
Since 1984 the Ed Block Courage Award annually honors one player from every NFL team who exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Recipients are selected by a vote of their teammates to recognize both on- and off-the-field extra efforts and their ability to overcome great adversity, whether it be personal or professional. The award is named in honor of Ed Block, the longtime head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts.
Williams joins fellow Vikings recipients Adrian Peterson, Cedric Griffin, E.J. Henderson, Kenechi Udeze, Chad Greenway, Matt Birk, Koren Robinson, Corey Chavous, Eric Kelly, Lewis Kelly, Daunte Culpepper, Gary Anderson, Robert Griffith, Randall Cunningham, Robert Smith, Scottie Graham, John Randle, Cris Carter, Henry Thomas, Darrin Nelson, Terry Allen, Gary Zimmerman, Jim Gustafson, Leo Lewis, Scott Studwell, Walker Lee Ashley, Keith Nord and Steve Riley.
Head coach Leslie Frazier said that Williams and his contribution to the organization exemplify the Ed Block Courage Award.
“Kevin is one of those guys throughout his career that has been able to play with injuries, overcome injuries, and still be able to get out on the field and he exemplifies everything that that award stands for,” Frazier said. “For what he’s done for our community, for our team, I don’t think there is a better example of what this award stands for than Kevin Williams. He has been outstanding in every area, whether it be off the field or on the field and his example of being able to battle through and be as courageous as anyone that’s ever played the game, and on top of that being a great player, well-deserving of this award and it shows you the respect that his teammates have for him.”
Williams has played through several painful injuries to be an ironman of the Vikings defense since being a first-round pick in 2003. He has always been committed to playing on game day, even when slowed and scarred by injury.
“You can’t make plays and you can’t be counted on if you can’t show up,” Williams said. “That’s one thing that I’ve always thought that if you’re able to be available and make plays when you’re out there and be ready at all times and just showing up is a lot of times, coach says, half the battle. You’ve got to put in the work, but just showing up and then playing the game, that’s the easy part.”
Williams will be honored with the other 31 recipients at an awards ceremony next spring in Baltimore. Williams will go there as a Vikings representative, although there are no guarantees he will be a Viking next season. Asked what advice he would give the next generation of Vikings, Williams said a strong work ethic will take you a long way.
“Just doing the right thing when you’re supposed to,” Williams said. “It’s so easy to do the wrong things and not do what you’re supposed to. When you’re on time, that’s the start. When you’re in your right gap, doing your right responsibilities, that’s easy. It doesn’t take a lot of talent to be in the right spot. Executing and all of that, that’s when your talent comes in, but you’ve got to do your studying, be on time, do the things the right way and a lot of people notice it. People will notice it around you and they’ll say, ‘Hey, this is a guy I like. I want to watch or be like him,’ and it’ll carry over to the other guys.”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.