INDIANAPOLIS — Shaquille Leonard’s arduous season has not gone unnoticed.
The Indianapolis Colts’ All-Pro linebacker was chosen by his teammates to receive the 2022 Ed Block Courage Award.
The annual award recognizes courageous play by an individual. Leonard is one of 32 NFL players who earned the accolade. Those chosen are traditionally honored at a banquet in Baltimore.
“To be selected by my teammates for this distinguished honor is a blessing,” said Leonard. “As NFL players, we have a platform to make an impact in the communities that we represent. I take great pride in being a servant leader and inspiring the youth in Indianapolis and my hometown of Lake View, South Carolina.”
Leonard has seen his fifth NFL season derailed by injuries. He underwent back surgery in June to address discs that were impacting nerves and causing pain and a lack of strength in his leg. His recovery caused him to miss the first three games of the season.
The four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler made his season debut in Week 4, only to suffer a concussion and broken nose during a brutal blow to the face. He missed the next three games as he recovered.
The 27-year-old returned for games against Washington and New England, where he played limited snaps. Still, things weren’t quite right. He experienced a setback in practice and told the media “the nerve still isn’t firing in my calf.” Leonard was placed on injured reserve in November and underwent another back surgery.
Despite his daunting personal challenges, Leonard has sustained an unwavering focus on improving the lives of others. His work off the field earned him the Colts’ nomination for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Leonard’s community efforts include:
- A $38,484 donation to renovate Hilltop Park in his hometown of Lake View, South Carolina
- Hosted a football camp for 200 kids at the park
- A $56,500 donation to improve the football field at Lake View High School
- A backpack giveaway that benefited about 380 students at Lake View Elementary
- A $3,511 donation towards Coats for Kids and provided $3,500 in Thanksgiving turkeys for his hometown
Leonard and his wife, Kayla, also launched the Maniac Foundation in 2020. The mission of the foundation is to transform communities through education, wellness programs, servicing families in need and other charitable causes. The Maniac Foundation provided over $100,000 in grants, educational materials and resources to the Lake View and Indianapolis communities in its first year. At their inaugural event, they raised over $680,000, which went directly to programs and initiatives throughout Lake View and Indianapolis.
In addition to those tremendous efforts, Leonard is also an outspoken advocate of “Kicking the Stigma,” an Irsay family initiative that works to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the shame and stigma too often associated with these illnesses. Leonard shares his own mental health experiences in videos, PSAs and roundtable discussions, and launched a mental health hotline through the Maniac Foundation in April of 2022.
History of the Ed Block Courage Award
The award is named after Ed Block, who was the head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts from 1954-77.
Past Colts winners include:
- WR-T.Y. Hilton (2021)
- P-Rigoberto Sanchez (2020)
- DE-Jabaal Sheard (2019)
- TE-Jack Doyle (2018)
- S-Clayton Geathers (2017)
- QB-Andrew Luck (2016)
- G/T-Joe Reitz (2015)
- TE-Dwayne Allen (2014)
- DE-Cory Redding (2013)
- S-Antoine Bethea (2012)
- DE-Robert Mathis (2011)
- DE-Dwight Freeney (2010)
- DB-Marlin Jackson (2009)
- C-Jeff Saturday (2008)
- OG-Ryan Lilja (2007)
- WR-Reggie Wayne (2006)
- LB-Cato June (2005)
- LB-Gary Brackett (2004)
- DE-Chad Bratzke (2003)
- LB-Rob Morris (2002)
- QB-Peyton Manning (2001)
- DT-Bernard Whittington (2000)