Following a long, lengthy battle to get back onto the field this season as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers after suffering a serious ankle injury in Week 2 of the 2021 season, Tyson Alualu is being rewarded by his peers for the hard work and determination in returning to the game he loves.
Alualu, who missed all but two weeks of the 2021 season after suffering a season-ending ankle injury against the Las Vegas Raiders last season, was voted the Ed Block Courage Award winner Monday morning by his teammates, according to Steelers.com.
The award is given to a player who has shown courage either coming back from an injury or a life-altering situation.
Alualu’s recovery was anything but easy. He embraced the challenge of not only rehabbing the injury but getting back onto the field for the start of the 2022 season at 35 years old. That determination and pursuit of one goal led to him receiving the 2022 Ed Block Courage Award, something that means a great deal to the veteran defensive lineman, he told Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley.
“It means a lot that my teammates selected me for this,” Alualu said to Varley, according to Steelers.com. “It isn’t an award you want to be up for because it means you were injured or dealt with something tough, but it means a lot with what I went through. I never had an injury that kept me out for as long as I was out. For it to happen so early in the season was tough and devastating to know the season was cut real short. It was a battle.”
The Ed Block Courage Award, founded in 1984, 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 along with their ability to overcome great adversity, whether it be personal or professional. The award is named in honor of Ed Block, the long-time head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts.
Going through that difficult rehab process just to get back to playing the game he loves gave Alualu a new perspective on his career. Sitting out 15 games last season while on the Reserve/Injured list and not really being around his teammates or coaches for an extended stretch was difficult.
Still, that battle to get back onto the field helped shape his perspective overall, not taking anything for granted and cherishing the little moments as a professional football player, something that younger players often overlook in the moment.
“I get excited for every game, especially it being this late in my career,” Alualu said to Varley. “I don’t take anything for granted. I try to enjoy these moments as much as I can. Early on playing you get excited for things, but it’s a game I play. Now I look at it as it’s one of those things that I try and cherish every single moment I am still here. Not just on game day, but also in the locker room with the group, trying to make the most of it.
“You never know when it could be your last play or not. It taught me to appreciate every little thing.”
Of course, the return from the ankle injury was not without bumps in the road, ones that continued into the season.
Alualu began training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List with a knee issue that popped up as far back as May during OTAs, which could have stemmed from the rehab process with the ankle injury.
Then, once he was able to get back onto the field, Alualu was slow to find his game, ultimately resulting in a demotion to second string behind Montravius Adams. Alualu took it all in stride though, continuing to work hard to find his game, which has come around in recent weeks in a more reserved role.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more deserving recipient on the Steelers for the Ed Block Courage Award than Alualu this season.