It's rather solid timing that we find this out following this morning's post about DeSean Jackson. The 49ers announced that CB Shawntae Spencer has been awarded the team's Ed Block Courage Award. The award is voted on by the players and is given annually to the player that exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage.
Spencer tore his ACL last season in week 2 and has battled back from that injury to become the team's #1 cornerback. I've always felt he was a talented CB, but it seemed like he was always battling injuries and inconsistent play. While he's certainly had some tough games this year, he's put together one of the best seasons of his career, even if it's not reflected in his stats (1 interception on the season).
As you've seen in our discussions about Nate Clements and recently Josh Morgan, we like to consider the community relations aspect of the team, given the impact it can have. The 49ers recognized this in publicizing the award. Spencer has been a staple in the Bay Area community and back in Pittsburgh (he attended Pitt). This year, Spencer joined fellow teammates who worked with Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY), an organization devoted to helping disadvantaged teenagers, to help share thoughts on dealing with stressful triggers and situations that come up in everyday life. He has also given back to Bay Area youth, visiting the Charles Drew Elementary School in the Bayview Hunter’s Point district in San Francisco, where he served as a judge for a Halloween parade and delivered Halloween safety tips to kids in every classroom. In addition, Spencer is helping to fund and launch a YMCA in Pittsburgh.
The Ed Block Courage Award is named after Ed Block, the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts of 23 years. Block was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian whose most passionate cause was helping children of abuse. The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation promotes the prevention of child abuse by raising awareness of the epidemic and assisting agencies who provide for the care and treatment of abused children in communities throughout the National Football League (NFL). The Edgewood Center for Children & Families in San Francisco is the local Courage House supported by the San Francisco 49ers.
Past winners of the award include Eric Heitmann, Frank Gore, Jeremy Newberry, Garrison Hearst, Bryant Young and Jerry Rice.