Veteran safety Eddie Jackson was honored as the Bears' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award Tuesday by Maryville Academy at Manzo's Banquets in Des Plaines.
The prestigious awards are presented to one player on all 32 NFL teams who best exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage and serves as an inspiration in the locker room. The award recipients, who are voted for by their teammates, symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication, and they are considered community role models.
Ed Block was a long-time head trainer with the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his field. The foundation promotes the prevention of child abuse by raising awareness of the epidemic and assisting agencies that provide for the care and treatment of abused children.
Block and his wife dedicated their lives to helping children in distress as foster parents and advisers. There are 27 Courage Houses connected with NFL teams and this is the 43rd year the awards have been presented.
"It's an honor, just to be voted by coaches and teammates," Jackson said. "And just to hear all the great things that Eddie did when he was alive and just to keep his legacy alive and be part of that, that's a great feeling."
Jackson was selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of Alabama. He scored five defensive touchdowns in his first two seasons and has since added a sixth, tied for third most in franchise history.
Jackson was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2019 and named first-team All-Pro in 2018. After failing to record an interception in 2020 and 2021, he was enjoying a resurgent 2022 campaign when he sustained a season-ending foot injury in a Week 12 game against the Jets. At the time, he led the Bears with 61 tackles, four interceptions, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles-and topped NFC free safeties in Pro Bowl voting.
"I feel like it was pretty good," Jackson said. "I'm not too happy with how it ended. We didn't make it to the playoffs, so we didn't get the overall goal. That's all that matters, honestly."
Although he did not provide a timetable for his return, Jackson told reporters that his rehab is "going great" and he feels that he's "ahead of schedule." He revealed that he was able to resume running about three weeks ago.
"It was a great feeling," Jackson said. "You don't know how grateful you are when you can run. So not being able to run for a while, it was a great feeling to get back to it."
The Bears were represented at Tuesday's luncheon by owner Virginia Halas McCaskey, coach Matt Eberflus and vice president Patrick McCaskey. The event was emceed by radio play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak.
Before introducing Jackson, Eberflus told those in attendance that he and Jackson both played for the same college football coach; Nick Saban coached Eberflus at Toledo in 1990 and Jackson at Alabama from 2013-16.
"I knew that he could handle hard," Eberflus said. "I knew that he was tough inside and out because that's what coach Saban said about him."
Eberflus recalled having a long conversation with Jackson about 13 months ago, shortly after being hired as Bears coach.
"I told him, 'This is probably going to be the hardest thing you ever do,' in terms of how we work and how we go about our business," Eberflus said. "He looked me right in the eye with great confidence and said, 'Coach, I can handle it,' and he could."
Each NFL team participating in the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation program selects a "Courage House" that supports victims of abuse, violence and neglect. The Bears' designated Courage House is Maryville Academy's Crisis Nursery in Des Plaines. Maryville is a social service agency which sponsors programs for children and families. Maryville's Crisis Nursery provides temporary emergency childcare for families in crisis.
The Ed Block Courage Award luncheon also honors the late Ed McCaskey by raising money for a fund in his name that provides high school, college and vocational scholarships to the children of Maryville. During his tenure with the Bears-first as vice president and treasurer and later as chairman and chairman emeritus-McCaskey was known for his generosity to Maryville.