Donte’ Stallworth Wins Award for Courage
Wide reciever Donte’ Stallworth recieved the Ed Block Courage Award for the Baltimore Ravens this year. The award has been given to one player from each NFL team every year dating back to 1984. According to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, it goes to “players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.” The players vote on which of their teammates they feel most meets the criteria.
I don’t get it. On March 14, 2009, Stallworth was driving drunk when he struck and killed a pedestrian — 59-year-old Mario Reyes. Reyes was said to be crossing the road illegally, but that does not change the fact that Stallworth was under the influence behind the wheel. Who’s to say that he couldn’t have reacted quickly enough to prevent the accident had he been sober? Stallworth reportedly reached a financial settlement with the Reyes’ family for an undisclosed sum and served 24 days of a 30 day prison sentence. He was also suspended for one season by the NFL before being signed by the Ravens at the beginning of the season
Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football Talk informed us that Stallworth had won the award, saying “Stallworth made a huge mistake in life and paid a steep price for it.” A steep price? He killed a man and he was out of jail in less than a month and back in the NFL a year later. Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg and can’t get approved for a work release. Burress got two years because he could have hurt or killed someone and was carrying an unregistered gun. Stallworth actually kill someone and got less than a month. Then his teammates give him an award for his “courage”?
In 2007, Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett received the same award after he was paralyzed with what doctors feared were life-threatening spinal injuries. Everett was up and walking again within months of the injury. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi won the award in 2005 after suffering a stroke and getting back on the field within nine months. These are the types of players and people that deserve to be honored — not someone who broke the law and took someone’s life.
Stallworth deserves a second chance in life and in the NFL, but the award seems ridiculous. He’s probably a decent enough guy who just made a mistake, but it was a terrible one. Stallworth shouldn’t be crucified forever for what he did, but he shouldn’t be honored for his “courageous” behavior afterward.