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Tampa, FL (Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Athletic Training Staff will be honored as the Professional Football Athletic Training Society (PFATS) Athletic Training Staff of the Year, and two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph will be recognized as the Buccaneers' 2012 Ed Block Courage Award recipient, at the 35th Annual Ed Block Courage Awards on Monday, March 18, in Baltimore.
The PFATS Athletic Training Staff of the Year Award will be presented to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including Director of Sports Medicine and Performance Todd Toriscelli, Director of Rehabilitation Shannon Merrick, and Assistant Athletic Trainer John Ames. The annual award is voted on by all NFL trainers and presented each year at the Ed Block Courage Awards.
Toriscelli acknowledges continuity on his staff through the years, and a group of dedicated, hard-working players, for making many training-room successes possible. He also credits former long-time assistant, Pat Jernigan, who left the Buccaneers in 2012 to become the Head Athletic Trainer at the University of Mississippi.
"We're committed to the health and safety of the player no matter what the injury is," said Toriscelli. "That's our main priority. But the most gratifying thing for us, and I think any staff, is when you have a player who sustains a potentially career-threatening injury or has a big surgery and you're on a mission to return them to the level of play they were at before they got hurt. That's obviously not an easy thing, and it takes a huge commitment on the player's part, but I'm proud of our track record on that."
Joseph, who will be honored as the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner, has started 83 of 84 career games on the Buccaneers' offensive line, anchoring a unit that has become one of the team's most consistent in recent years. Despite suffering a season-ending knee injury during the 2012 preseason, Joseph remained a committed teammate, dedicating his efforts to rehabilitation and returning in 2013 stronger than ever. He also strengthened his presence in communities throughout Florida, demonstrating his desire to have a positive impact on those less fortunate.
"We started a thing called the Buccaneer Way, and there is only one way to act," said Joseph. "It's humbling to know that is how my teammates view me - whether it is rehab or serving the community, on the field, or being a leader in the locker room - it is all done the Buccaneer Way. This Ed Block Courage Award is reflective of how we want to change our culture in the locker room, in the building as an organization, to say that we are doing things the right way, the Buccaneer Way."
The Buccaneers' NFL Players Association representative and reigning two-time Man of the Year, Joseph will accept the award Monday evening through a taped video while he is embarking on an NFL-USO tour to visit U.S. troops stationed overseas. The military appreciation effort falls right in line with Joseph's commitment to giving back, as he also oversees the Davin Joseph Events for Cause Foundation, serves as the Buccaneers' United Way spokesperson, and has established lasting and impactful relationships in the Tampa Bay and South Florida communities.
"The Buccaneers have had some great recipients in the past, and so to be amongst those guys like Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams, guys I have a ton of respect for, it's an honor to know that my team thinks of me in the light of those same men," added Joseph. "It is an honor to receive that award and it's just another way to represent that we have good people in the NFL and in our organization."
The Courage Award is named after Ed Block, the longtime head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian. The Foundation's efforts are supported by the NFL and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society. The inaugural Ed Block Courage Award was presented in 1978 to Baltimore Colts' DE Joe Ehrmann. Following the Colts' departure from Baltimore in 1984, the scope of the Award expanded to include one player from every team in the NFL. For more information about the 35th Annual Ed Block Courage Awards, visit www.edblock.org.