FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Patriots running back Sammy Morris was selected by his teammates as the recipient of the 2008 Ed Block Courage Award. The honor is voted on by teammates and bestowed annually upon the player who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration. Morris and award winners from the 31 other NFL teams will be honored at the 30th Annual Ed Block Courage Awards Banquet in Baltimore on March 10, 2009.
Morris, 31, was signed as a free agent by the Patriots on March 3, 2007, after stints with the Buffalo Bills (2000-03) and the Miami Dolphins (2004-06). In his first season with the Patriots, the Texas Tech product stepped in for an injured Laurence Maroney in the fourth game of the season and rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries (5.6 avg.) at Cincinnati. The following week against the Browns, Morris started and again rushed 21 times, compiling 102 yards (4.9 avg.). The following week, Morris suffered a severe chest injury in the Patriots' win at the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14. He was later placed on injured reserve and missed the remainder of the 2007 season.
The San Antonio, Texas native returned to the Patriots lineup in 2008 and started seven of 13 games, setting several career highs in the process. Morris led the team in rushing with a career-high 727 yards. He paced a Patriots rushing attack that produced 2,278 combined yards on the ground, the sixth best performance in team history and the club's highest total in more than 20 seasons. He also established another career-best with a team-high seven rushing touchdowns, contributing to the Patriots 21 rushing touchdowns scored in 2008, a mark that is the team's best since 1981 and tied for the fourth highest total in team history.
In addition, the nine-year veteran averaged 4.66 yards per carry in 2008, a total that is the second best by a Patriots leading rusher (Corey Dillon 4.74 avg. in 2004) in over 20 years. Morris also tallied a single-game career high 138 rushing yards in the Patriots' 41-7 victory over the Denver Broncos on Oct. 20, reaching the 100-yard plateau after just nine carries.
Next week, Morris will travel overseas to visit American soldiers on a 10-day tour to support the troops. The Super Sunday Tour will include visits to numerous bases throughout Iraq and Kuwait and will extend to include visits on Super Bowl Sunday. Sammy's brother, Brien, is a staff sergeant in the Air Force. Last year, Brien returned from a tour in Iraq just in time to attend the Patriots' Super Bowl in Arizona.
Morris is also very active in the community, donating his time to many charitable endeavors. He is active in "Athletes in Action," served as a spokesperson for the "Hit the Books" summer reading program and last year joined teammates to visit the bone marrow transplant center at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts University in Boston. He also hosted a football camp in Lubbock, Texas in 2008.
The Ed Block Courage Award is named after Ed Block, a long-time head trainer for the Baltimore Colts and a respected humanitarian dedicated to helping children. Recipients are often players who have overcome devastating injuries or tragedies in their personal lives to return to top-level competition in the NFL.
Officially formulated in 1986, the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that is sanctioned by the NFL and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS). The Foundation is committed to heightening awareness of the plight of abused children in cities throughout the league. Proceeds from the annual Courage Awards event benefit the Foundation's Courage House National Support Network For Kids.