"I've been waiting for this moment all my life, and even though it took two years after I joined the Steelers as a third-round pick, the wait was well worth it."
-- Steelers linebacker Sean Spence on starting his first NFL regular season game on Sept. 28, 2014
It's been a long journey for Steelers linebacker Sean Spence, who suffered what many would have thought was a career-ending knee injury on August 30, 2012. He could have easily thrown in the towel, given up on any type of comeback with the severity of the injury. But to know Sean Spence is to know that he is not a quitter. That word doesn't even exist in his vocabulary.
There were bumps in the road, there were discouraging moments, and there were tears. But Spence fought through it all and a little over two years after suffering the injury, he saw his dream come true when he started at linebacker against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field.
His teammates know the battle he fought, the courage he showed, and that's why they voted him the 2014 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, presented annually to a Steelers player who has fought back from an injury or tough circumstances to return to the field. Spence will receive the award at the 22nd Annual Arthur J. Rooney, Sr. Courage House Luncheon on Nov. 4 at Heinz Field.
"It feels great to win it. It's a blessing," said Spence. "My teammates saw me those two years and what I went through and how hard I fought to get back. They congratulated me with that today."
It's an award that is a badge of honor for players, something that shows their inner strength, determination and the courage they have. But honestly, it's not something they want to win because it means they've had to battle through tough situations.
"It's bittersweet," said Spence. "It shows the courage and how hard you worked. Some great guys have won it before, I know (Maurkice) Pouncey won it and he's a guy you want to look up to as far as working hard.
"I think my faith and courage was tested over these past two years with what I was going through and being away from football for two seasons. It showed patience and continuing to work no matter what others thought the outlook was like."
For tickets to the luncheon, which benefits Holy Family Institute, call 412-766-9020 x439.