Phillip Daniels has been named the Redskins' winner of the 2009 Ed Block Courage Award, given annually to a player from each NFL team who overcomes injury and adversity.
Daniels returned to the lineup this year after sitting out the 2008 season with a knee ligament injury. He suffered the injury on the first day of training camp, an abrupt end to his season.
The 6-6, 305-pound Daniels worked hard to rehab his knee and return to the practice fields last offseason. He has started every game this season, even playing through a biceps injury.
"The award symbolizes all the work I put in to get back and get healthy and it symbolizes all the injuries I fought through," Daniels said. "I appreciate my teammates voting me the recipient of the award. It's a great award. I feel good about it."
Daniels, 36, described the rehab process as "tough."
Surprising words from a man who has competed in powerlifting competitions and once had a 633-pound squat and a 600-pound dead-lift.
"I put in a lot of hours at rehab, 4-5 hours a day just rehabbing to get back," Daniels said. "And a lot of that rehab I had to do on my own. I had to work through it and get back. A lot of it was painful. I had to do a lot of crazy exercise to strengthen the knee."
Thoughts of retirement entered his mind soon after the surgery to repair his knee, but after talking with his family, he decided to return for another season.
"As I was going through rehab, I never doubted anything," Daniels said. "I always felt it was worth coming back and helping the team win and helping my teammates do some positive things.
"I was determined. I would listen to people say, 'He can't do it, look at his age,' and all this stuff. But they don't know me. They don't know Phillip. I wanted to prove to people that you can come back, no matter what your age is. And if you work hard enough, it'll happen.
"I think I was ahead of schedule the whole time. The first time I went to rehab, the next day after surgery, the doctor said, 'You might be a week ahead of schedule already.' That's due to the powerlifting and the work I did beforehand. I just felt good about my chances of coming back. I know how hard I work.
"And it was all worth it."
This season, Daniels is playing through a torn biceps he suffered in Week 4. Since there is no risk of injuring the biceps further, he decided not to have season-ending surgery. He wanted to finish out the year on the field.
The award is named after Ed Block, the long-time head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian.
Past Redskins Ed Block Courage Award winners include Reed Doughty, Marcus Washington, Randy Thomas, Fred Smoot, Chris Samuels, Tre' Johnson, Mark Schlereth, Art Monk, Don Warren, Joe Jacoby, Darryl Grant, Doug Williams and Mark May.