The Washington Redskins have named defensive end Stephen Bowen the winner of the team’s 2011 Ed Block Courage Award.
Annually given to one player on every NFL team, the Ed Block Courage Award is presented to someone who displays tremendous courage while battling adversity.
Bowen, 27, is in his first season with the Redskins. Prior to signing in Washington in late July, the sixth-year veteran and his wife gave birth to twin boys, Skyler and Stephen III, born four months premature. Both weighed just 1 pound and 6 ounces at the time of their birth and Skyler tragically died a week later. Stephen III remained hospitalized until the end of October.
“It means a lot,” Bowen said. “My teammates are recognizing for stuff that I’ve been through this past offseason and pretty much the whole year so far. I’ve just been trying to stay strong for my family and just be the best teammate I can be.”
Through the pain of overcoming the loss of a baby and the recovery of another child, Bowen played through the devastating circumstances. He also lost his mother-in-law this past weekend, a family death he found out about by-way of a note from team-security at the team hotel on Sunday.
On Sunday, and throughout the season, despite his mind and heart being elsewhere, Bowen has played at a very high level.
“[I’ve] just tried to separate the two, [I’ve] just tried to clear my mind when I’m on the field, just all about football. Last game was really hard. I’m not going to lie, I was losing focus a lot. I just tried to do the best I could.”
A starter in all 12 of Washington’s games, the 306-pound defender has already posted a career-high 4.5 sacks. Bowen’s 29 tackles are seven more stops than he’s ever tallied in the past.
As happy as Bowen was to be recognized by his teammates, he would have much preferred not having to go through what it took to have been named an Ed Block Courage Award winner.
“I don’t wish for anybody to go through all the stuff I’ve been through,” he admitted. “It’s really hard. Especially all this stuff happening in one year, within a span of five months. I’m glad they recognized that I’m still trying to work hard and get it done on the field but I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Nose tackle Barry Cofield says the Redskins have found motivation in Bowen’s perseverance.
“It’s been amazing, everything that he’s been through and he comes in here with a smile on his face, he works hard. He’s played great football, he deserves that award and we’re pulling for him. He’s an inspiration to all of us.”