It was announced earlier on Twitter today that Max Starks will be receiving the Ed Block Courage Award.
This awards is to honor those who have shown extraordinary courage in overcoming challenges in their personal and/or professional lives. I think this is a great award to give Starks. Last year, Starks suffered a neck injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season starting in November. He was sorely missed in the Super Bowl and had a rough off season – ballooning over his target weight as a lineman. He was released as soon as the lockout was over, largely because he was out of shape and the Steelers needed to dump money for salary cap room.
When it was clear the offensive line was reeling due to injuries and inadequate talent, the Steelers brought Starks back. Roethlisberger had been lobbying for him during training camp, and Starks was able to lower his weight and get back into shape. His return was magnificent – he played the entire game (original plan was to only play a half) and kept pass rushers at bay from his quarterback. He has shown signs of sloppiness since – some holding penalties and a sack or two. But, he has been mainly gangbusters since his return to the Steelers.
Starks has certainly overcome an injury and the confidence busting act of being released by a team to storm back and solidify his importance on that offensive line. His personal background has had personal challenges too, and all the while he has been a man of integrity and excelled as a pro athlete.
Congrats, Mr. Starks. This award is well deserved.