The New Orleans Saints announced Wednesday, Dec. 13 that linebacker Michael Mauti has been voted by his teammates as the 2017 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.
The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of neglected children and ending the cycle of abuse. The purpose is to raise awareness and help prevent child abuse. That objective is coupled with the Foundation's commitment to celebrating players of inspiration in the NFL. Since its inception the Foundation through its charter with the Courage House National Support Network for Kids, and an affiliation with the National Football League and Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society has helped to provide hope to countless children and raised millions of dollars. The recipient is voted by teammates and bestowed annually upon the player who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration.
Mauti, 6 feet 2, 243 pounds, is a former Mandeville High School standout, who was originally a seventh-round draft pick (213th overall) of the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 out of Penn State. After spending his first two seasons with the Vikings, in 2015, he was claimed off waivers by New Orleans and would play an integral role on the club's linebacker rotation and special teams unit, appearing in all 16 contests with two starts and recording a career-high 26 tackles (19 solo), a team-high 12 special teams stops and a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown. In 2016, Mauti was voted by his teammates as a special teams captain and played in eight games, collecting 14 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and seven special teams stops. However, his season was cut short by Ulcerative Colitis, a condition that he had suffered from that finally required surgery.
In 2017, Mauti re-signed with the Saints at the start of training camp. Despite being released by the club in the final roster cutdown, Mauti re-joined the team and made his presence felt in week seven. He's appeared in eight games on special teams and defense with one start and has posted seven tackles (four solo), one forced fumble and one special teams stop.
For his career, Mauti has appeared in 55 career games with three starts in five NFL seasons and has tallied 49 tackles (31 solo), one sack, two forced fumble, 37 special teams stops and one blocked punt recovered for a touchdown.
During "My Cause My Cleats" week in the NFL, Mauti dedicated his cleats to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation to help raise awareness and help find a cure for the various inflammatory bowel diseases.
"As someone who struggled with Ulcerative Colitis on and off the field for years, I'm grateful to help bring awareness and help provide resources for the many people out there struggling with IBD," Mauti said. "My cleats, which I wore during My Cause My Cleats week, featured the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, because it's important to recognize the need to raise awareness and money to help fund research to hopefully one day find cures for these diseases, and Colitis Ninja, a great information resource for people to share their stories, as well as raise awareness to help people fight these diseases together."
Mauti's continued commitment to the community, highlighted by extensive involvement in charitable activities and helping raise awareness for IBD, has been as successful as his comeback story on the field.
"The Ed Block Courage Award is one of the most prestigious awards an NFL player receives because it is voted on by his fellow teammates," Saints Head Athletic Trainer Scottie B. Patton said. "The award is a testament to overcoming adversity, whether it is through setbacks on the field or through challenges they have overcome in their personal lives. To have the determination to fight for the chance to return to the field after being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis makes Michael's story truly remarkable and an inspiration to others battling the same condition."
"It's a tremendous honor to be selected by my Saints peers for the Ed Block Courage Award," Mauti said. "I've always been driven to give my best and what I have gone through in the past has made me more determined to succeed this year more than ever. To be mentioned among the players who have won this award in the past for overcoming their own adversity is truly humbling."
Mauti will be honored, along with recipients of the other 31 NFL teams, at the annual Ed Block Courage Awards in Baltimore, Maryland in the spring of 2018.
New Orleans Saints players reveal the cleats for NFL initiative "My Cause My Cleats" and will play in the customized shoes on December 3, 2017 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (Photos by Layne Murdoch Jr. New Orleans Saints)