Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester was named the club's Man of the Year and was selected by his teammates as the Ed Block Courage Award winner, the team announced today.
Meester missed all of the preseason in 2007 and the first four games of the regular season after breaking a bone in his ankle during training camp. Meester returned to the starting lineup for the final 11 regular season games and both playoff games.
The Ed Block Courage Awards began in 1978 to honor longtime Baltimore Colts trainer Ed Block. Recipients from each of the 32 teams will attend a banquet March in Baltimore to accept their awards and show support for the Courage House National Support Network for Kids, which provides support for children who are victims of abuse. The mission of the Foundation is to raise national awareness and prevention of child abuse.
"I'm honored that my teammates would choose me for the Ed Block Courage Award," Meester said. "There were several other players that were nominated that were well-deserving. It's a huge honor for me to be selected by my teammates and it means a lot to me."
Renamed in 1999 for the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has been given annually since 1970 to recognize a player's off the field community service as well as his playing excellence.
Each club is responsible for selecting their club's local Man of the Year winner. The winner represents stellar performance both on the field and in the community. Meester along with the other 31 club winners will receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. Meester designated University of Iowa Children's Hospital-Children's Miracle Network as his charity of choice.
Meester led an effort to raise nearly $100,000 for tornado relief in his home area of Parkersburg, Iowa through donations from partners, coaches, players and staff and the sale of AP Falcons Tornado Relief Hats. A tornado struck Parkersburg on May 25 and several people were killed and much of the downtown was leveled in the city of 1,800. Aplington-Parkersburg High School was completely destroyed along with many homes and businesses in and around the community.
Many players and coaches wore the AP hats throughout minicamp and 2,000 hats were sold at minicamp and on jaguars.com. The NFL matched each player or coach contribution up to $5,000 for the football program through the NFL Youth Football Fund. The funds are being used to replace damaged or lost equipment and to repair the football field and weight room facilities.
"The Man of the Year Award is a huge honor," Meester said. "As a NFL player, we are looked up to as role models. I want to try and do whatever I can to help the community especially children. They look up to us and I want to be a positive influence in their lives whether it's reading to them, visiting a hospital or just talking them. Every little bit can make a positive impact.
"Obviously what happened in Parkersburg was tough on everyone and something no person should have to go through. It was my hometown and it was a situation where you had to do whatever you could to help. It affected my friends, family and people that I care deeply about. I couldn't have done it by myself and I'm so thankful for everyone for their support. So many people stepped up to help make it possible, Mr. and Mrs. Weaver and the Jaguars organization, all the people who purchased hats, my teammates and coaches and the media for getting the word out about the situation. So many people gave money and were a huge help with this project. The money raised went directly to the people of Parkersburg and they are so thankful for everyone especially the community of Jacksonville. It was a devastating event that changed their life and every little bit of money has helped."
Four finalists will be announced during the postseason and will be invited to the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida with the winner announced on the field directly before kickoff of the game. Finalists will receive an additional $5,000 and the national winner will receive a $25,000 donation.