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2010 Ed Block Courage Award Winner: Will Witherspoon

The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation will celebrate the 33nd annual Ed Block Courage Awards March 8 at Martin's West. One player from every NFL team will be honored for his commitment to the principles of courage and sportsmanship while serving as an inspiration in the locker rooms and community. In anticipation of the big night, PressBox is profiling each award winner. Click here for more profiles.

Tennessee Titans LB Will Witherspoon was named by his teammates as the recipient of the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award.

Witherspoon encountered off-field adversity that none of his teammates had experienced but handled it in a way that each Tennessee Titans player admired. Witherspoon's mother, Nra Lee Cooper Witherspoon, unexpectedly passed away at age 56 in the week preceding Tennessee’s season-opening game against Oakland.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher told Witherspoon to put family before football, and the nine-year NFL veteran linebacker was able to attend his mother’s funeral and return in time to help the Titans defeat the Raiders on opening day. Witherspoon said his mother would have wanted him to play, and he recorded a sack in that game and one in each of the Titans' next two games.

As a result of the adversity he overcame, Titans players selected the veteran linebacker as Tennessee’s recipient.

"That’s where it really means a lot," Witherspoon said. "It kind of shows what your teammates are thinking of you and the situation you had to overcome. That’s one of those bittersweet gifts, I guess is the best way to put it, but still it’s a great thing. It’s a great honor to be part of it, knowing the other guys who have won this award in the past."

Posted Feb. 12, 2011