Every year, all 32 NFL teams select a recipient for the Ed Block Courage Award based on commitment to sportsmanship and courage.
New Orleans Saints 2018 Courage Award nominee Jermon Bushrod lost his daughter, Jordyn, Oct. 18, one week after she was born. Bushrod, who played for Towson from 2003-2007, returned to the Saints in November and started five games down the stretch as New Orleans secured the top seed in the NFC.
"It was a tough situation that the wife and I had to go through this year, but we definitely lean on the Lord and our family and our friends," Bushrod said on
Glenn Clark Radio
Bushrod and his wife, Jessica, received news before the Saints' Week 1 game that Jordyn would be born with health complications. Bushrod struggled to focus at practice that day and told the coaching staff he needed to be with his wife. Head coach Sean Payton and the Saints told him to take as much time as he needed.
"At that point in time, football did not feel important to me," Bushrod said. "When I went out to practice, I felt like I just went through the motions. I felt like I couldn't wait for it to be over so I could be back home and spend time with my wife."
Bushrod said he didn't believe the process would've gone so smoothly if he had been with another team. The 34-year-old spent his first six seasons in New Orleans before stints in Chicago and Miami. He returned to the Saints in free agency during the offseason and was
pressed into service
after injuries to the offensive line.
Bushrod said the team is part of his family. Many wives and girlfriends of players reached out to his wife for support, and the collective uplifting from the organization helped the Bushrod family press on.
"We had to stand up, we had to keep our heads up high because we had so many people that were praying for us," Bushrod said. "We had a plan, and we had to find a way to get through it."
Bushrod continues to wear the hospital bracelet from Jordyn's final days. He had her name on his cleats throughout the season. He said he sees his daughter in his other two children, and doesn't go a day without thinking about her.
After her passing, Bushrod spoke often about the situation. He said the only way to be the father and husband he wanted to be was to address the tragedy head on. Bushrod announced Jordyn's passing on Twitter.
Bushrod said he hadn't realized how often parents lose children, and his social media accounts were flooded with others coming forward with similar situations.
"People just wanted to tell their story," Bushrod said. "I could kinda lean on them and they could kinda lean on me."
New Orleans' season ended in agony, a last-second loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC championship game fueled by a questionable pass interference no-call. Bushrod said the team is still frustrated about the outcome after a stellar 13-win season, but he has a bit more perspective given recent events.
"In the grand scheme of things, it is a game," Bushrod said. "It's always going to hurt but that's life. Sometimes you just have to find a way to deal with whatever problem you got going on."
The 41st Ed Block Courage Award Gala takes place in Baltimore March 23.
To hear more from Bushrod, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Towson Athletics