Alualu is Steelers Ed Block Courage Award recipient

Last season was a true struggle for defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, bringing his season to a disappointing end when he was placed on the Reserve/Injured List.

It wasn't what he expected, wasn't what he had hoped for after re-signing with the team that offseason.

"It's definitely a tough injury," said Alualu. "Definitely a tough rehab getting an injury like that. I think just being around the guys, both physically and mentally, was very helpful in that process.

"I just enjoyed those hard days and those tough times. Those build character trying to get back and play on Sunday. My mindset was always get healthy and enjoy that grind."

The grind was something his teammates witnessed on a daily basis and it's the reason why they voted him this year's Steelers recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. The award is voted on by the players and given to a player who has shown courage either coming back from an injury or a life-altering situation.

"It means a lot that my teammates selected me for this," said Alualu. "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."

Being out almost the entire season gave him a whole new perspective on the game. Now in his13th season, he knows how valuable every moment is and he treasures every practice, every game, every moment.

"I get excited for every game, especially it being this late in my career," said Alualu. "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."

And that appreciation was felt when he stepped back on the field for the first time this season, in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I felt like I got emotional, even though I was preparing, taking snaps to get back on the field," said Alualu. "Just that first game back. I guess it took me back to how grateful I am to still be doing this with the people I care about and love. I felt grateful and thankful to be back on the field."

About the Ed Block Courage Award: Since 1984, the Ed Block Courage Award 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.

For more information on the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, visit www.edblock.org.

Advertising