By Teresa Varley
Safety Ryan Clark was honored as the Steelers 2008 Ed Block Courage Award recipient.
Clark received the award, which was voted on by his teammates, at the Arthur J. Rooney Courage House Luncheon, which benefits Holy Family Institute. Head coach Mike Tomlin presented the award to Clark.
"You want your teammates to look at you as courageous," said Clark. "I could have done it without having to go through what it took to win it. I am appreciative of it because it did mean you came back. I think that is the biggest part about it. You are back on the team. You are doing well. You overcame the problems. It is pretty cool."
The award is presented annually to a Steelers player who has fought back from an injury or tough situation to return to the field. Mid-way through the 2007 season Clark suffered an inflamed spleen following the Steelers-Broncos game in Denver, the result of a pre-existing blood condition where the high mountain altitude combined with dehydration caused the inflammation. He had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed and was placed on injured reserve.
Clark fought back all offseason and was back in the starting lineup on opening day this year.
"I was excited. I was anxious to get out there," said Clark of returning to the field. "It's more a testament to how great God has been to me and my family. I just wanted to go out there and have a good time and show I am appreciative through my play."
The event also honored Abithia Cunningham a Holy Family alumnus who went on to graduate from Hampton University and is now an accounting consultant for The Siegfried Group in Atlanta. She also serves as a mentor for those in the accounting profession.
On hand to help honor Clark and Cunningham were current and former Steelers players, including most of Clark's fellow teammates in the secondary.