Block was the trainer for the Baltimore Colts for 23 years (1954-1977). He held five degrees and helped pioneer training programs for U.S. Astronauts. Weeb Eubank said, "Eddie's knowledge...made his presence the same as having a doctor with the team at all times. He was the first academically and clinically trained expert in professional football, and in my opinion the best trainer in the National Football League. If the Pro Football Hall of Fame ever decides to include trainers, Eddie would be an excellent choice for the first one."
Since 1984, the Ed Block Courage Award is given annually to one player from every NFL team. Conceptualized in 1978 as an award exclusively for the Colts, it expanded league-wide when the team left Baltimore for Indianapolis. The award is presented to the player on each team who, "exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Recipients are selected by a vote of their teammates to recognize both on and off the field extra efforts and their ability to overcome great adversity, whether it be personal or professional."
Among the winners of the award in 2001 were Peyton Manning (Colts), Curtis Martin (Jets), Jimmy Smith (Jaguars), Terrell Davis (Broncos), Tiki Barber (Giants), Duce Staley (Eagles), Daunte Culpepper (Vikings), and Isaac Bruce (Rams).
Birth and Death Dates:
b. September 3, 1913 - May 9, 1983
Born in St. Louis, Block played many sports in high school, including baseball, tennis, water polo, wrestling, and archery. As a student at the University of Missouri, he went out for football for two seasons, but injuries sidelined him both years. Following his second injury, he became an assistant trainer and began his legendary career.
After receiving both his B.S. and M.A. from Missouri (he later received an Ed.D. from Columbia University Teachers Collee), Block returned to his hometown of St. Louis where he worked at Washington University under Weeb Eubank, who would eventually bring Block to the Colts in 1954.
During World War II, Block served in the U.S. Army under General George Patton. A tank officer, he was wounded in action and received a Purple Heart. After he recovered, Block became chief of physical training and corrective exercise at hospitals in France and Germany. While in Europe, Block became interested in rehabilitation and upon his return to the U.S., taught at Brooklyn College and conducted rehabilitation therapy at New York area hospitals.
In 1954, Eubank, the new coach of the NFL's Baltimore Colts, called Block and asked him to become the team's trainer. Over the next 23 years, Block remained the Colts' trainer and became a beloved member of the franchise. He mended the wounds of all-time greats such as Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, Raymond Berry, and many others while overseeing two NFL Championships (1958 and 1959) and Super Bowl V in 1970.
During his tenure with the Colts, the 5'5", 150-pounds Block ruled his domain and once chased the 6'8", 290-pound Bubba Smith out of the training room. He also said things like, "neatness in the training room is correlated with success at the goal line." Block befriended the Colt players and their families, but also watched the players closely to see if they were hiding their injuries. He used his interest in physics and mathematics in his training methods and was interested in the psychological aspect of sports. All in all, Block was as much a member of the Colts as Unitas, Berry, Eubank, or Don Shula.
Block passed away in 1983, and Ernie Accorsi (then the GM of the Colts and the current GM of the New York Giants) said after Eddie's funeral, "If you took a vote of all the people who ever played or worked with the Colts, and asked them to name the one man in the organization they loved most, it would be a shutout for Eddie. I've never seen anything like it. You just had to love the little guy. He wouldn't let it be any other way."
St. Louis, Missouri