Center Eric Heitmann was chosen by his teammates as the 2007 Ed Block Courage Award recipient. The award, which is given to the player that exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage, is the first for Heitmann. The starting lineman also symbolizes professionalism, great strength, dedication and serves as a community role model for others, which are requirements to receive the award.
Heitmann will take part in the 30th annual national Ed Block Courage Awards Foundation ceremony on March 11 at Martin's West in Baltimore, MD and he will be honored with the 31 other award representatives from each NFL team.
A six-year veteran, Heitmann has battled through bumps and bruises throughout his career as a mainstay on San Francisco's offensive line, but a broken leg in December of 2006 was a sure test of his resiliency. Heitmann had his tibia snapped when a defender crashed into him in Seattle, and subsequently underwent surgery that night to have an 18-inch titanium rod inserted into his leg. Through pure determination and hard work, Heitmann returned to the field earlier than expected as he participated in June OTA's with his teammates.
His leadership and consistent play has been clearly evident to his teammates as the six-year veteran earned the team's coveted Bobb McKittrick Award in each of the past two seasons. It marked the first time that the award, which is given annually to the 49ers best offensive lineman as voted upon by his peers, was earned by a player in consecutive seasons.
Not only is Heitmann a stronghold on the 49ers offensive line, but he's been a staple in the Bay Area community for years as well. For the second year in a row, Heitmann participated in the delivery, set-up and hands-on play of school supplies to Bay Area schools. He's done it all – from assembling a basketball hoop at the Tenderloin Community School in San Francisco to making harmonicas and maracas at Katherine Hughes Elementary in Santa Clara – to become a role model both on and off the field.
The Ed Block Courage Award is named after Ed Block, the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts of 23 years. Block was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian whose most passionate cause was helping children of abuse. The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation promotes the prevention of child abuse by raising awareness of the epidemic and assisting agencies who provide for the care and treatment of abused children in communities throughout the National Football League (NFL). The Edgewood Center for Children & Families in San Francisco is the local Courage House supported by the San Francisco 49ers.