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Jason Witten Named Cowboys' Ed Block Courage Award Winner

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If you don't have a Jason Witten appreciation day marked down in your calendar, you should have.

Christian Petersen

The Dallas Cowboys have selected tight end Jason Witten as their 2012 Ed Block Courage Award recipient. Each NFL team selects one award winner from among its players, with the players themselves voting on who gets the award for their team.

Here's what the award is all about:

Each year, the Ed Block Courage Awards honors those National Football League players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Recipients are selected by their teammates for team effort, as well as individual performance.

The Ed Block Courage Award recipient symbolizes professionalism, great strength and dedication. He is also a community role model. With this honor, he enters into an association which contrasts his fierce profession by becoming a major component of the Courage House National Support Network for Kids. He becomes an Ambassador of Courage for victims of abuse, violence and neglect.

Jason Witten won the award for coming back from a spleen injury suffered in the first preseason game last year against the Oakland Raiders. Prior to that game, Witten had no idea where his spleen was located, he would later recount, but a hit by Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain changed all that.

The trainers took Witten out of the game, but it wasn't until the next morning that Witten noticed something was wrong. A medical check revealed Witten had a lacerated spleen. The laceration was so bad that blood was seeping into his abdomen. Witten was ordered to refrain from any physical activity and to rest until the bleeding stopped and was shut down for a full week before he started light conditioning work again.

The injury was initially expected to sideline Witten for at least six weeks, yet 23 days after the injury, Jason Witten suited up for the season opener against the Giants. And while his struggles at the start of the season were evident, he ended the season by setting the NFL record for receptions by a tight end with 110 passes caught.

The Ed Block award is one of the lesser known awards in the league, and while it was actually already awarded in March this year, Witten was only officially recognized at a team event today as the award winner. Having your teammates vote for you is always a good thing, so here's to The Senator and to always knowing where your spleen is.

A full list of the previous award winner can be found here. Typically, the award goes to the Cowboys player who has battled through a significant injury. Previous winners for the Cowboys include Tony Romo, Sam Hurd, Kyle Kosier, Keith Davis, Jay Ratliff and Flozell Adams. With the way things are going, Jay Ratliff is the early favorite for the 2013 version of the award, and could become the first Cowboys to repeat as the award winner.